Couples in Maryland have the option of entering into a written agreement with each other to govern certain economic aspects of their relationship. Prenuptial agreements allow those planning to marry an opportunity to address financial matters in a way that will diminish conflict if they ever divorce.
However, prenuptial agreements were considered unusual or even crass just a few years ago, so many people who might benefit from a contractual agreement with their spouse may not have one yet. Postnuptial agreements can include many of the same terms and conditions as a prenuptial agreement, with the main difference being that couples sign the documents after they have already legally married.
A postnuptial agreement can take much of the uncertainty out of a divorce and make the process less costly in many cases. However, couples do not need to anticipate a divorce to negotiate a postnuptial agreement. Why might married couples decide to sign a contract with one another?
They have gone through a rough patch in their marriage
Life may not have gone the way that the spouses imagined when they first got married, and bad decisions on the part of either spouse may have disrupted the relationship between the two of them. Especially in scenarios where the misconduct of one spouse potentially endangers the safety or stability of the other, as is the case with compulsive gambling, addiction and adultery, the protection of a written agreement may help make one spouse feel safer about working on the issues in their relationship.
Couples that discuss what has gone wrong in their marriage, what they intend to contribute to the relationship in the future and what will happen if they divorce might actually be able to recommit to their relationship and make their marriages work.
They have acquired property that could lead to conflicts later
Perhaps one spouse has recently gone back to school and intends to start their own counseling practice once they graduate. Maybe there is a sizable inheritance that one spouse will soon receive from a family member’s estate. When there is particularly valuable property acquired during the marriage, that property can lead to conflict in the event of a divorce. Spouses may need to outline what they intend to do with a business they start during the marriage or agree in writing that the inherited assets are separate property that is not subject to division in a divorce or marital property that could be part of their spouse’s estate when they die.
Discussing the benefits of negotiating a postnuptial agreement with a spouse might inspire the creation of a contract that will help to protect both parties in the event of a divorce.