Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements tend to be viewed negatively, but they are essential documents for many couples. You may find yourself wondering, what’s the difference between pre and postnuptial agreements? And, do you need one?

Prenuptial agreements are decided upon before a wedding takes place or before a marriage certificate is signed. These agreements generally outline the division of assets should the marriage come to an end, by either divorce or the death of a spouse. However, they can vary, and sometimes include how money will be divided up or used by each party during the marriage.

Not all young couples entering into their first marriage need a prenup. Generally, a prenup is recommended for couples where one or both parties will be bringing significant assets into the marriage or are setup to inherit a large sum or estate. It is also strongly recommended that couples entering their second, third or fourth marriage have a prenup, since those couples usually have more assets and even more family members (ie: children and step children) to consider. In any case, if a prenup exists, it can eliminate spousal support in the case of divorce, but it cannot eliminate child support.

Postnuptial agreements are signed after you are married. There is no specific time this needs to happen—it can be drawn up immediately following the marriage so as to eliminate additional stress time planning and leading up to the wedding, or the agreement can be created five, 10 or 20 years down the road.

Postnups are often used to cover responsibility of future and current debts, like mortgages, credit cards and debt acquired from business ownership. Like prenups, postnup agreements cannot allow a parent to waive their child support obligation.

These agreements are frequently a solution to marital problems and help address a single issue of contention between the couple—usually financial. Postnups can also have certain clauses, such as a fidelity clause, which spells out what happens if one spouse cheats on the other and how that affects their finances should they get divorced for this reason.

Whether or not to enter into a prenup or a postnup is a very personal decision. It’s not romantic, but the unfortunate reality of this day and age is that many marriages end in divorce. An agreement can save couples from having to deal with long, drawn out, nasty divorce proceedings that tend to be costly if they end up going to court.

The law of postnups and prenups is complicated. You need an experienced family and matrimonial lawyer by your side. Call Trevett Cristo today.