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Increase in "postnuptial agreements," signed after the wedding

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there has been an increase in recent years in couples signing legally binding agreements in the style of prenuptial agreements after the marriage has begun. The rising costs of litigation and increase in divorce rates may be contributing factors to an increase in postnuptial agreements.

The terms of the contract can dictate just about any detail of the marriage, including pet custody, child support, debts and accounts. A spokesperson for the AAML described that couples who "feel that a marriage may be dissolved should try to define what they would do in the event of a divorce in advance." In this way, a postnup is like a safety net, outlining legally what the spouses have discussed would be the actions in the case of divorce.

The discussion about working out a postnup may be difficult, as the other spouse may feel that a divorce is inevitable. Instead, thinking of the agreement as a safety precaution, like a seatbelt (you hope you won't need it, but it's a good idea to have it just in case), can be more comfortable. However, it may be better to get the details down on paper ahead of time with cool heads, rather than during divorce proceedings if that is where the relationship ends up.

Whether in discussing a potential postnuptial agreement, a prenuptial agreement or what your plans would be in the case of a divorce, full disclosure is the best policy. Being open and clear in regards to finances, assets, debts and other factors will increase trust in your relationship and ensure that if a divorce does take place the agreement won't be thrown out in court. By having these details drawn out ahead of time can prevent a messy and difficult divorce.

Source: KABC, "Postnuptial agreements becoming more common, signed after couples get married," Ric Romero, Aug. 29, 2012

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