Prenuptial Agreements vs. Postnuptial Agreements
The most obvious difference between prenuptial vs. postnuptial agreements is when they take place. A prenuptial agreement (also called a prenup) must be made before a couple gets married, while a postnuptial agreement can be drawn up after a couple is already married. This may be the most immediately apparent difference, but it’s certainly not the only one of importance. When deciding whether to get a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, you should know what can and cannot be included in them. Get the details you need to know with the Chicago and Oak Park family law attorneys from Conniff & Keleher, LLC, below.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made before a couple gets married that outlines how their assets are to be divided if they were to get divorced or if one spouse were to pass away. Some argue that a prenup is unromantic and can even doom a marriage before it begins, while others believe it to be reasonable and responsible, especially for re-marrying couples who have a lot of individual assets or who have children from previous marriages.
What Can Be Included in a Prenup?
- Distinctions between separate and marital property
- Protections against the other spouse’s debts
- Terms designed to provide for children from previous marriages
- Protections designed to keep family property in the family
- Protections for estate plans
- Instructions on how property should be distributed in the event of a divorce
What Cannot Be Included in a Prenup?
- Terms detailing anything illegal
- Decisions regarding child support or child custody
- Terms that could encourage divorce with financial incentives
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Once you are married, your individual assets become shared assets between you and your spouse. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenup in that it allows you to create an outline for how those assets should be divided in the event of a divorce or the passing of a spouse, but as we noted above, a postnuptial agreement can be made after you’re already married.
What Can Be Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?
- Division of property and assets after divorce
- Limitations for spousal support
- Division of debts (mortgage loan, credit card debt, etc.)
- Instructions for how to handle assets following the death of one spouse
What Cannot Be Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?
- Terms for child support and child custody
- Terms detailing anything illegal
Some couples opt for a postnuptial agreement simply because, through all of the excitement of planning their marriage, they never considered a prenup but still recognize the value of an agreed-upon division of assets.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Some think that the creation of a prenup or postnuptial agreement invites negativity into a marriage, but this certainly does not have to be true. People and their emotions will inevitably (and naturally) change over time. For some marriages, these changes lead to the realization that the spouses are no longer happy together. If this were to happen, or if one spouse were to pass away, having a prenup or postnup can save you from a great deal of heartache, headache, and financial stress. So rather than viewing such agreements as a “bad omen,” see them as a way to protect both yourself and your spouse if the unfortunate were to occur.
Consult a Family Law Attorney
Conniff & Keleher, LLC of Chicago and Oak Park invite those who may be unsure whether a prenup or postnuptial agreement is right for their marriage to contact us for a consultation. An experienced family law attorney from our team can discuss your options in greater depth with you and draft a marital agreement that addresses all of your needs.