What Are the Differences Between Prenups and Postnups?

By Jones & Associates Law P.C.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are like insurance because these documents address events that no one wants to occur. These are legal contracts that address the status of a couple’s assets if they divorce or a spouse dies.

Prenuptial agreements are entered before marriage while postnuptial agreements are executed after the couple marries.

Areas Covered

Both agreements may address issues such as property division, spousal support and the allocation of pensions and personal property. But there are differences and advantages and disadvantages associated with each document.

Prenups Advantages and Disadvantages

Prenuptial agreements are generally more enforceable than postnuptial agreements. Courts are more likely to find that there is lower likelihood of coercion when people enter an agreement when they are still independent, unmarried and have not commingled their assets. If no one was coerced into signing an agreement, a court is likely to find that it should be enforced.

Prenuptial agreements may make couples discuss important and sensitive financial matters before marriage and help them make financial plans. It may help eliminate fears that a partner is entering marriage for financial gain.

One disadvantage is that a partner may view discussions on a prenuptial agreement as a sign that their partner is not committed to their marriage. Prenuptial agreements can also lead to some unpleasant discussions and take away some of the romance of wedding planning.

Postnuptial Agreements

Postnuptial agreements provide a couple with another opportunity to enter an agreement if they never executed a prenuptial agreement and their financial situation now increases the need for this contract. Postnuptial agreements may address a couple’s changed circumstances such as inheritance or establishment of a business. Postnups can also deal with previously undisclosed financial issues such as substantial debt.

Postnuptial agreements may help spouses commit to their relationship when problems arise. If they are considering divorce, a postnuptial agreement can reduce disagreements later on.

Postnuptial agreements may be more difficult to enforce because of the presumption that spouses are less likely to make independent financial decisions and may be vulnerable to coercion. Also, asking for a postnuptial agreement may be viewed as a sign of marital discontent.

An attorney can help each party negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement. Attorneys can also advice spouses on property division issues during divorce.