Prenup...After Marriage? Here's Why and When to Consider One

Beautiful couple on their wedding day
kate_sept2004/Getty Images

Despite the popular, abbreviated term, you definitely can get a prenup after marriage. This contract, known as a post-nuptial agreement, is drafted after marriage by those who are still married and either are contemplating separation or divorce, or simply want to protect themselves for the unexpected in the future, explains FindLaw. Below, read on for three reasons to consider a prenup after marriage and how to get one, according to an expert.

Reasons to Consider a Prenup After Marriage

  • Harmony: A post-nuptial agreement, although it seems unromantic, can actually help couples struggling with financial differences to keep their marriage intact, says Chris A. Stachtiaris, an attorney who specializes in family law and trained in collaborative law, an alternative process to court-based divorces. How can a post-nuptial agreement help couples stay together? For instance, says Stachtiaris, if you constantly argue about your partner's gambling debts but your marriage is otherwise fine, you can stipulate that your debts are not their debts and visa versa. Sometimes, separating your finances can help eliminate one of your main arguments in order to live more harmoniously.
  • A Way Out: Feeling protected if something were to ever happen to your marriage can lift you out of desperation and keep you from staying in an unhappy marriage for the wrong reasons. You can use post-nuptial agreements to spell out the separation of your assets, what would happen to your assets and finances should you separate or divorce, and how the two of you would provide for your children after emancipation. (For example, would you both have to contribute to your child’s college education, even after they turn 18? If so, how much?) 
  • Peace of Mind: While the prenup or postnup can be controversial—maybe the person with fewer assets will feel threatened or attacked—if you both agree, a post-nuptial agreement can help you spell out (and cushion) your financial future. Knowing that whether you get divorced or your spouse dies, for example, you will be financially stable. 

How to Get a Post-Nuptial Agreement

  • The first step is to find legal representation that is well versed in family law. Look for someone who spends at least 60 percent of their time doing domestic legal work, recommends Stachtiaris.
  • Next, you and your spouse need to consider and assess all of your separate and shared assets and finances to determine what you would have to separate or stipulate in the post-nuptial agreement. One of the first things you will decide is what kind of support, if any, you will provide to one another if you separate, which legally means you would no longer be acting and behaving as married people, says Stachtiaris. For example, you could write in the post-nuptial agreement that no one would get spousal support if you were to ever separate.
  • Then, provide full disclosure of your assets. If you are not completely honest, you nullify the post-nuptial contract. While Stachtiaris suggests having access to funds separately from your spouse, you still must inform your spouse that this money exists.
  • Sign on the dotted line. 

For couples who are writing a post-nuptial agreement because they are already considering separation or divorce, Stachtiaris encourages couples to think carefully about what they really want to do. He adds that the longer a marriage lasts, the more financially intertwined the couple becomes, and the more difficult it is to go through a separation or divorce. “Give it an honest shot,” says Stachtiaris. “But if it’s plain that you or the other party isn’t going to make it, then get out.”

On the other hand, if your marriage is strong, weigh the consequences of such an agreement. Some people would take such a request the wrong way. Consider your spouse's feelings, talk it out, and be fair should you decide to go through with the post-nuptial agreement. When done correctly, post-nuptial agreements benefit both people.

Related Stories