The Virginia family law code recognizes and upholds marital agreements, including postnuptial contracts. If you do not already know, postnuptial agreements resemble premarital agreements, the main difference being one occurs before marriage, and the other occurs after your union.

A postnup can improve your marriage by addressing the financial problems many couples experience, but it can also help during a divorce. If you are unsure whether you need a postnuptial contract, the following marital scenarios can help you decide.

What exactly is a postnuptial agreement?

A postnuptial agreement, also known as a postmarital agreement, is a legal document that is signed after a couple gets married. Like a prenuptial agreement, a post-nuptial agreement outlines the rights and obligations of each spouse in the event of a divorce or separation. However, while prenuptial agreements are signed before the marriage, postnups are signed after the couple has already tied the knot.

The purpose of a post-nuptial agreement is to provide clarity and certainty in the event of a divorce or separation so that both spouses can move forward with their lives without the stress and uncertainty that often comes with divorce.

What are the benefits of having a postnuptial agreement?

Postnuptial agreements can offer various benefits, including:

  • Clearly defining each spouse’s rights and responsibilities concerning assets and debts.
  • Protecting separate property acquired before the marriage.
  • Addressing potential spousal support or alimony issues in the event of a divorce.
  • Reducing conflicts and uncertainties during challenging times.
  • Preserving family wealth and business interests.
  • Outlining financial expectations and responsibilities, promoting financial communication between spouses.

Postnups can cover a wide range of issues, including property division, spousal support, and child custody. They can also address matters such as inheritance, debt, and business interests. Let’s go over some of the factors that play a role in determining whether you need a postnup.

When wealth is a factor

If you came into your marriage with substantial assets or wealth, a postnup ensures that you can keep most of your premarital assets. You can use the contract to identify your separate property and what belongs to your spouse.

Is a postnuptial agreement only for wealthy couples?

No, postnuptial agreements are not exclusively for wealthy couples. They can be beneficial for any couple looking to establish clear financial expectations and protect their assets, regardless of their net worth. Postnuptial agreements are especially valuable when one spouse experiences a significant change in financial status or when couples want to ensure transparency in financial matters.

When inheritance is a factor

If you are expecting or have already received a large inheritance or windfall, a postnup can protect it during the property division stage of divorce. In other words, the language in your postnup ensures that you keep your inheritance if a divorce occurs.

When premarital children are a factor

Many people have kids with another person when they get married to someone else. A postnuptial agreement can ensure children born outside of the union suffer no financial harm if the marriage fails.

When your business is a factor

With a postnup, you can protect the profits from a business or company you own during your marriage and if you choose to get divorced. Without this protection, your ex may acquire a share of your business finances in a divorce.

Are postnuptial agreements legally enforceable?

Yes, postnuptial agreements can be legally enforceable, provided they meet certain requirements. These requirements typically include full financial disclosure by both spouses, no evidence of coercion or duress, and the agreement being fair and reasonable at the time of execution. Consulting with a qualified attorney during the drafting process helps ensure the agreement’s validity and enforceability.

Can a postnuptial agreement be modified or revoked?

Yes, a postnuptial agreement can be modified or revoked under certain circumstances. Both spouses must agree to the changes, and the modification should be documented in writing and signed by both parties. If one spouse wishes to revoke the agreement entirely, they may need to follow specific legal procedures to do so.

Do I need a postnuptial agreement if I already have a prenuptial agreement?

While a prenuptial agreement is created before marriage, a postnuptial agreement is established after marriage. If you have a prenuptial agreement in place, you may still find value in a postnuptial agreement to address changes in financial circumstances or to include assets acquired after marriage. Both documents can work together to provide comprehensive legal protection.

Can a postnuptial agreement help prevent a divorce?

While a postnuptial agreement cannot prevent a divorce from happening, it can help reduce financial disputes during a divorce proceeding. By addressing financial matters beforehand, couples may experience a more amicable divorce process, focusing on emotional healing rather than prolonged legal battles.

As you can see, postnuptial agreements fill a role of financial protection during a divorce. Learning more about the state laws that govern postnuptial contracts can help you create an airtight legal agreement.