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Should I sign a postnuptial agreement?

Some engaged couples forsake getting a prenuptial agreement because neither has anything of particular value at the time of the marriage. But most couples accumulate valuable assets and possessions throughout their lifetimes together.

That's one reason that mid-marriage contracts known as postnuptial agreements have been gaining in popularity over the past couple of decades.

These legal agreements detail what property each spouse will get should the couple divorce. This can be a good thing in the case of a marital infidelity, as it can help guide a marriage back on track that was headed for Splitsville. Each party knows exactly what he or she is risking if the temptation to stray again arises.

The fundamental difference between a prenup and a postnup is that prior to getting married, neither spouse has a claim to anything owned by the other. Once joined in marriage, however, both parties then have rights to a portion of the marital property. If a postnup is entered into later, one spouse may be reneging his or her rights to some assets or potential spousal support.

Another scenario where a postnup might come in handy is if an adult child with a spouse is due to inherit ownership or stock in a family business. The other spouse could sign off on an agreement stating that if they divorce, the business interests remain with the blood relatives.

It's a useful option for couples where one parent stayed home to rear the children, giving up decades of earning potential that can't be recovered if he or she later divorces.

Is a postnuptial agreement the right choice for you? It could be, but before signing off on any legal document, it is always wise to retain your own counsel to review the document and offer his or her opinion as to the wisdom of signing it or not.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Postnuptial agreements gaining traction with couples," Tim Grant, accessed May 26, 2016

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