You may be noticing your friends and acquaintances going through tough times in their marriages. Perhaps you have consoled more than one family member during a difficult divorce, and you are beginning to realize that few marriages are impenetrable. You may regret now that you did not follow that good advice about signing a prenuptial agreement.
Maybe it didn't seem necessary at the time, especially if you were just starting medical school or in the early days of your business plan. You probably had little money and few assets, so a prenup might have felt extravagant. If you think such an agreement would be valuable to you now, it's not too late to consider creating a contract between you and your spouse. For those who are already married, a postnuptial agreement is becoming a popular and useful tool.
A useful device for a solid marriage
Postnuptial agreements do not have the historical background of prenups, but they can have a positive effect on a struggling marriage. However, your marriage does not have to be in trouble for a postnuptial contract to prove useful. Some common reasons why people draft marriage contracts include:
- You have enormous debt from graduate school or medical school, and you want to protect your spouse from liability for that debt in the event of a divorce.
- Your practice or business has become successful, and you want to clarify the division of your assets in case the marriage comes to an end.
- You and your spouse are having disagreements about certain lifestyle issues, such as spending or even household chores, and you want to use a postnuptial contract to settle those issues.
- There has been infidelity in your marriage, and a marriage agreement can establish financial consequences if one of you cheats in the future.
Unlike premarital contracts, the courts are not as eager to enforce postnuptial agreements, so it is essential to take every precaution to ensure the validity of your contract. Full disclosure of finances and honest negotiation will go a long way in helping you create a solid, enforceable agreement.
If you feel it may be difficult to convince your spouse to create and sign a postnuptial agreement, perhaps your suggestion that he or she obtain individual legal counsel will give some assurance that the contract will be mutually beneficial. In fact, having separate attorneys may reduce the chances that a Florida court will find your agreement invalid if you should ever need to use it.