What is a PostNuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement is an agreement made between a couple after marriage about what will happen if the couple divorces or one of them dies.”Postnuptial” simply means “after marriage”. Andrea Vacca wrote a good article on postnuptial agreements in New York, and much of what she wrote is applicable here in Washington.

There are several different reasons why a couple might choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement. The first is that they did not do a prenuptial agreement before the marriage, but decide after the marriage that they wish they had.  Sometimes a couple may set out to do a prenuptial agreement before marriage, but run out of time to complete it prior to the wedding, so they sign it as a postnuptial agreement after the wedding instead. When couples come to us shortly before a wedding asking for a prenuptial agreement, we often advise them to do it as a postnuptial agreement to avoid any later arguments about whether both parties had adequate time to make decisions and seek legal advice or that either party was feeling pressured to sign the agreement because of the imminent wedding date.

Couples might also choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement because circumstances have changed during the marriage. Maybe one party is working less than the other and the couple wants to provide a safety net for the one is is working less. Maybe one party has inherited funds during the marriage and the couple wants to convert those separate funds to community funds.

Then again, one of the parties might be starting or purchasing a business and the parties want to establish what would happen to the business in case of death or divorce. For instance, the other party might not be in a position to take over management of the business, in which case it might be important to provide for a buy out by a partner or for some type of interim management arrangements.