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What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement is a document created after a marriage has taken place. Postnuptial agreements are signed when both spouses in a marriage decide to draft one in order to come to an agreement about what will happen to their assets in the event of a future divorce. Like a prenuptial agreement (prenup), postnuptial agreements (also referred to as postnups or post-marital agreements) are meant to help ease any financial tension a couple may have about who gets what in the event of a divorce. Unlike a prenup, post nuptial agreements are created after a marriage has already begun. 

Post nups can be stand alone, or can be used to amend a preexisting prenuptial agreement. 

What is a Postnuptial Agreement Not Able to Cover

Post nuptial agreements are meant to dictate how a couple’s assets will be distributed if a divorce occurs.

Child support and custody are not agreed upon in a postnup. These are decided at the end of a marriage as part of the divorce decree and not agreed to beforehand in a pre or post nuptial agreement.

What is a Postnuptial Agreement Able to Cover

In addition to determining the distribution of assets in the event of a divorce, post nuptials outline the spousal rights each party is entitled to. For example, if there is an item considered community property that one spouse would have a special interest in retaining after a marriage dissolves, both spouses are able to agree to distribute that asset in that particular way. 

Postnups can also be useful in protecting inheritances in the event of divorce or dividing stakes in a business.

Alimony (spousal support) can also be dictated within a postnuptial agreement. For example, if one spouse makes significantly more than the other and would suffer a loss in standard of living due to a split, the higher earning spouse may provide spousal support to help care for their partner. This is especially common in cases where one parent is a stay-at-home parent.

Terms of a Postnuptial Agreement

In order for a postnuptial agreement to be considered valid in Washington State it must meet five key criteria:

  1. The agreement must be given in writing.
  2. Both spouses must enter into the postnuptial agreement willingly
  3. Both spouses must disclose all relevant financial information, as well as any other relevant information 
  4. The agreement must be fair and not preferential to one spouse
  5. The agreement must be signed by both spouses

Is There’s a Limit to When You Can Sign A Postnup?

Although you can only enter into a prenuptial agreement before you’re married, postnuptial agreements can be created at any point after marriage. There is no time window that dictates when you can sign a postnup. 

Post nups tend to get a bad wrap, as many believe that signing one means the spouses may not wholly believe in the long-term liability of the marriage. However, this is far from the case. Couples who sign pre or postnuptial agreements can and do enjoy successful, long-term marriages. Signing a postnup only adds an extra layer of security in case things don’t work out. 

Tacoma Postnuptial Agreement Attorneys

If you are considering signing a postnuptial marital agreement, our attorneys at The Narrows Law Group are standing by to help you draft an equitable agreement that benefits both parties. Contact our Tacoma law office today to speak to one of our qualified team members at 253-302-4849. We look forward to serving you.

Related reading: How Signing A Prenup can Help Avoid Headaches