Protecting yourself as an individual is not something that people often think about when they are getting married. Like many people who are engaged, you can be more worried about joining your life with your soon-to-be spouse. Because of this, many people fail to consider the possibility of signing a prenuptial agreement.
However, even if you are one of the many people who do not sign a prenup, you may still have options to seek some legal protections as an individual. This would involve creating and signing a postnuptial agreement.
As the name indicates, a postnuptial agreement is a document you sign after you marry. It is a legal contract that, like a prenuptial agreement, sets rules and requirements for asset division and other financial matters that will need to be resolved in the event of a divorce.
This means that even if you and your spouse did not get a prenup signed before marriage, you can still explore each of your options for protecting your financial wishes with a postnuptial agreement. One main difference between a prenuptial and a postnuptial agreement is that in many states (including California) there exists a special or fiduciary dutys between spouses that does not exist prior to marriage. This makes postnuptial agreements more problematic than a prenuptial agreement.
However, if you do have a prenuptial agreement in place, you may still want to consider an amendment or a new postnuptial agreement. As noted in this ABC News article, you can use a postnuptial agreement as a way to update, refine or clarify terms and conditions set in the original document. You may also choose to create a postnuptial agreement if you and your spouse experience a dramatic shift in personal and shared income during your marriage.
If you have questions about a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you would be wise to consult an attorney so that you can understand your legal options and rights. With this type of support, you can make decisions that protect and are in your best interests. Consideration should also be considered for both spouses to see an attorney/mediator together to discuss theirs options in a positive way.