There is a good chance you have heard of prenuptial agreements because they often pop up in movies, reality television and elsewhere. You may be less familiar, however, with postnuptial agreements. These agreements function much like prenuptial agreements, but spouses execute them after they marry instead of before they walk down the aisle.
In New York, adults have considerable freedom to negotiate contracts. Still, for a postnuptial agreement to be valid, it must be written and executed in the same manner as a deed would be filed. If you are drafting one, you have wide latitude to choose what to put in it unless it is contrary to public policy. Here are three common topics you may want to address in your postnuptial agreement:
1. Property classification
If you ever divorce your spouse, you want to be on the best possible financial footing. Without a binding agreement to the contrary, divorcing spouses in the Empire State receive an equitable share of marital property. This usually means a 50/50 split, but it can also mean that rather than having each spouse take 50% of marital assets, each one collects a fair share. Your postnuptial agreement can identify which property is marital and which is separate. It can also outline who gets what if there is a divorce.
2. Spousal maintenance
Spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to as alimony, is often a hotly contested matter in divorce proceedings. A postnuptial agreement can minimize friction related to alimony. That is, your agreement may outline whether either spouse receives spousal maintenance. It can also define how much an individual receives. Again, as long as the agreement does not violate public policy.
3. Child custody
If you want to ensure that your kids have what they need to grow into successful adults, your prenuptial agreement may also contemplate child custody matters. When drafting your agreement, you may want to address visitation schedules, support payments and other relevant issues. However, all of those issues can be addressed depending on the best interests of the child.
Whether you remain married for the rest of your life or recognize the possibility of an eventual divorce, understanding how to protect your legal and financial interests is important. For a variety of reasons, executing a postnuptial agreement may be a good way to boost your chances of living happily ever after.