Finances are an unromantic reality of every marriage. For better or worse, many experts advise couples to sign a legal agreement that documents both spouses’ intentions for earnings and assets during the marriage, as well as in the event of divorce.
Prenups are more common but if you didn’t get one before you got married, you’re not out of luck in planning out how marital property might be used or divided.
Paige Zandri, a family law attorney, says you can get a do-over. “That is in the form of a post-nup. All that means is just, ‘pre’ versus ‘post.’ It’s before or after the wedding, but everything covered in the agreement will be exactly the same.”
This is promising information for Zandri’s client, Leyda Hernandez, who had been married for three years when she started her own business. As an entrepreneur with a growing asset, she started wondering if she should have signed a prenup.
“Like most people, we got married and we didn’t really think about finances or how we were going to split things. I had no clue that you could actually do that same type of agreement after you were married,” Hernandez says. She is now considering a postnuptial agreement so that her business will be protected in case she brings in outside partners or investors.
Postnuptial agreements address many issues, including property, debt, future inheritances and earnings. They can also actually make a couple stronger by fostering healthy communication about finances.
Money and communication are common issues leading to divorce, so it makes sense to map out the division of marital property while a couple is still committed to supporting one another.
Zandri says, “It’s not really romantic. But it also can open up ways for you to communicate with your spouse on topics that you may not have actually sat down and talked about together.”
Zandri adds that an agreement of this kind will also save you some cash by avoiding an arduous state-mandated divorce settlement if you do split up. “The result is going to be much faster, usually much more reasonable, and much less expensive for you,” she says.
Hernandez agrees that the process can serve to strengthen a couple. “This person is supposed to be your partner for life. I think you should both try to be active participants in that and approach it in a way that’s collaborative. And in reality, this is kind of an insurance policy,” she says.