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When should Texans get a postnuptial agreement?

While it's easy to understand the various reasons why many couples get prenuptial agreements before they marry, most people are a little murkier on why a couple would get a postnuptial agreement. The true number of postnups is not known because a court filing is not required. However, attorneys say they are becoming more common.

There are several key reasons why couples get postnuptial agreements. They can be particularly important if one spouse has a share in a family-owned business. A postnup can help keep the business in the family after a divorce rather than have some or all of it go to the other spouse as a marital asset.

A postnup can also codify a couple's earlier agreement that one spouse give up a career to raise the family and stipulate that he or she should be compensated appropriately in a divorce. When couples in these situations divorce, the potential earning power for a spouse (usually a woman) who goes back into the workforce after many years is significantly lower than the other spouse. A postnup can help ensure that she is not pushed into a dire financial situation.

There are various other reasons for postnups based on issues that arise after marriage. If one spouse has problems with gambling or overspending, it may be wise to separate the couple's assets and liabilities. This can not only help protect the other spouse, but take some of the financial stress out of the marriage. Sometimes if one partner has been unfaithful, the other spouse will request a postnup that stipulates that he or she gets a larger share of assets if it happens again.

While many couples are motivated to get a postnup when they see their marriage disintegrating, it doesn't have to signal the end of a relationship. On the contrary, a postnup can be a way for Texas couples to address the changes that have occurred in their lives, financially and otherwise, since the got married. It can also give them a forum for open discussion about their goals and values months, years or even decades into their relationship.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Postnuptial agreements gaining traction with couples" Tim Grant, Sep. 09, 2014

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