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Can you get a prenuptial agreement even if you are married?

Lawyers commonly hear refrains like this: "I wish I had thought to do a prenuptial agreement before I got married, but it is too late now." Even happily married people say such things. For instance, a couple may have agreed before marriage that both will continue to work. However, once children are in the picture, one spouse wants to stay home with the kids, and the other supports that decision. But the individual staying home may have nagging worries that giving up work, however temporarily, could be setting the stage for later financial disaster.

Here is the good news: It is possible to do the equivalent of a prenuptial agreement after you are married. Of course, such arrangements are not called prenuptials but rather postnuptial agreements.

Why all sorts of couples opt for postnuptial agreements

The situation cited above, where one parent stays home, is a common reason that couples draw up postnuptial agreements, but it is far from the only one. Other frequent scenarios are:

  • Spouse A holds back on career opportunities so that Spouse B can advance (for example, Spouse A agrees to a move even though that means a pay cut for Spouse A or no career advancement for a while).
  • At least one of the spouses is high-asset, has children from a prior relationship, and realizes that a new marriage makes the inheritance picture murky. He or she wants to ensure that the children get the inheritances meant for them.
  • The spouses are doing estate planning and want to cover all of their bases.
  • The spouses are going through a marriage crisis, and although they intend to stay together, do want to make arrangements in case their efforts do not work out.

Entering into a postnuptial agreement can be a smart decision and worth the upfront investment. If you are interested in drawing one up, an attorney will be able to help draft it and cover all the important points you should consider.

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