A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract entered into by spouses. It details the assets and debts of both parties and how all shared assets will be divided following the event of separation. Download this legal template in PDF or Word format and create your professional legal document in minutes.
Are you and your spouse looking to create a postnuptial agreement? This legal contract can help protect both parties’ finances and assets in the event of separation. Our postnuptial agreement samples and template can help you form this written agreement correctly. Keep reading for your free download and to learn more about this legal contract and when one is needed.
What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract entered into by spouses. It details the assets and debts of both parties and how all shared assets will be divided following the event of separation. It can also optionally include decisions regarding spousal support and limitations on inheritance. Postnuptial agreements are nearly identical to prenuptial agreements, except they are created after entering a marriage. Both parties must enter the agreement voluntarily for it to stand up in court.
Why Is a Postnuptial Agreement Important?
When a married couple has not written a prenuptial agreement, the dissolution of a marriage can leave both spouses’ assets at risk. Therefore, using our postnuptial agreement template is important in protecting the interests of both parties. This includes aiding in all of the following areas:
Providing financial security for both spouses;
Protecting your individually owned assets from being divided;
Avoiding court battles and disputes in the case of divorce;
Conserving both parties’ mental health;
Facilitating amicable divorce terms;
Protecting family-owned or inherited properties; and
Avoiding default divorce laws of the state.
What Should I Include in a Postnuptial Agreement?
Our postnuptial agreement samples provide plenty of examples of what to include in a postnuptial agreement. You can use these postnuptial agreement examples to help formulate your own. As you can see, the legal contract must clearly list all assets owned both individually and jointly. Just a few examples of shared assets you might wish to include are:
Any property brought under joint names;
Savings for retirement or retirement plans;
Joint business ventures started during the marriage; and
Stocks and shares purchased under joint names.
Alongside all assets, both parties must also include information on any current outstanding debts. Spousal alimony and inheritance restrictions can also be included in postnuptial agreements, though these are optional. There is also the opportunity to engage separate legal counsel to review the agreement before signing.
Can I Include a Pet in a Postnuptial Agreement?
Many spouses want to know whether they can include a pet in their postnuptial agreement. Thankfully, this is permitted. All pets are considered property and can be added to your postnuptial agreement template along with all other assets. Where the pet is jointly owned and thus considered marital property, things can get a little more complicated. One spouse will generally retain control and get to keep the animal, and any disputes can be settled using a pet agreement.
When to Use a Postnuptial Agreement
Postnuptial agreements are recommended for couples that want financial security yet did not enter into a prenuptial agreement before marriage. There are many reasons why a couple may not enter into a prenuptial agreement. Perhaps there were not enough assets or debts worth forming a contract over.
However, changes to the financial situation might make having an agreement more favorable. Below are some other reasons why having a postnuptial agreement would be beneficial:
When one or both spouses have children from previous relationships;
When one spouse agrees not to work to look after the family;
When either spouse has family-owned or inherited property;
When one spouse has taken on a lot of debt before or during the marriage; and
When both parties want to avoid default divorce laws.
Does Using a Postnuptial Agreement Mean I Have to Divorce?
When you create a postnuptial agreement, it does not mean you are setting yourself up for a divorce. Instead, you are simply keeping control of your assets and protecting yourself from debts in the event of a separation. It is a way of planning ahead and ensuring financial security just in case the worst happens. If you are considering a separation, you need to write a separation agreement instead. These are for couples that want to live separately with the potential for divorce in the near future.
How to Write a Postnuptial Agreement
With our free postnuptial agreement template, it is super simple to write up an agreement with your spouse. Simply download the form and fill in all of the following information.
1. Provide Party Information
The first thing to include in any legal document is information about the parties that are involved. In this case, the parties are you and your spouse. Complete the postnuptial agreement template with both of your full legal names, home addresses, and contact numbers.
2. List Separate Assets
You’ll then need to provide full disclosure of all assets that each spouse owns individually. When one spouse owns the assets before the marriage, they will continue to own them following a separation. Examples of assets you could list here include financial assets, property held in your sole name, stocks and shares, inheritance money, premium bonds, and more.
3. List Shared Assets
All jointly-owned assets go into the following section. This relates to all property and financial assets that are owned by both parties, thus are considered shared. In the US, governing law states that shared assets are divided equitably between both spouses in the case of divorce. If one party wishes to keep an asset, they can pay half of the asset’s value to their spouse.
4. Detail the Division of Shared Assets
The post-nuptial agreement template must next detail how these shared assets will be divided. By default, most courts follow the rule of equitable distribution of shared assets. In many cases, this means both parties will leave with half of the shared property, but not necessarily. This generally depends on how much money each spouse contributed to the acquisition of the assets. The needs of both parties and any dependent children are also considered, ensuring a fair outcome for all.
5. List Separate Debts
You need to provide details of both your and your spouse’s debts. Start by filling in information on all of your separate debts. These debts will remain with each spouse in the event of a separation – no separate debt can be transferred to the other spouse in a prenuptial agreement, and full disclosure of debts here will protect you from taking on your spouse’s debt.
6. List Shared Debts
The next section in our prenuptial agreement template is for shared debts. List all debts that belong to both parties and have been entered into as a joint creditor. This could include mortgages, co-signed loans, or joint credit card debt. When taking out any type of joint debt, both parties become responsible for the entire amount rather than just their half. Therefore, both parties are responsible for repayment in the event of a divorce.
7. Detail the Division of Shared Debts
You then need to determine how these shared debts will be divided. As shared debts are taken out together, most spouses agree to split all shared debts equally. However, if you wish to split the repayment responsibilities differently, now is the time to do so.
8. Provide Information for Dependent Children
The next step when using our postnuptial agreement template is to provide information on dependent children. Dependent children refer to any minors – both biologically related or adopted – under the age of 18 for whom you are the legal guardian and to whom you have a financial obligation. This includes children from the current relationship and any previous relationship.
You must include information for dependent children when you create a postnuptial agreement. Although postnuptial agreements cannot legally address issues relating to child custody and child support, children may have inheritance rights which could impact the agreement.
9. Outline Any Spousal Support Terms
Next comes the terms for spousal support, also known as alimony. This is an optional part of a postnuptial agreement, and alimony can be determined at the point of separation instead. However, many couples prefer to discuss this when writing their postnuptial agreement.
Spousal support is money that one spouse agrees to pay the other following a separation. It aims to help the person with a lower income maintain their current living standards until they have the opportunity to seek employment and earn a higher income for themselves. Several factors can have a sway on the agreed spousal support payment, including the following:
How long the couple has been married;
The earning potential of the lower-income spouse;
The individual contributions of both parties throughout the relationship; and
The health conditions of both spouses.
10. Add Inheritance Restrictions
Finally, you might choose to add restrictions on inheritance. Like spousal support, this is an optional section of our free postnuptial agreement template. However, many couples choose to restrict inheritance so that their property and assets can be passed onto someone else. It is common for spouses to want inherited assets to be passed to their children rather than their partners.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What assets can I divide in a postnuptial agreement?
Any shared assets that are considered marital property can be divided when using our postnuptial agreement template. This includes real property, savings, stocks and shares, jointly-owned businesses, inheritance, and personal belongings.
When should someone avoid signing a postnuptial agreement?
Although there are many perks of postnuptial agreements, signing one is not always a good idea. Don’t sign the legal contract if you and your partner are planning on separating; create a separation agreement instead. Also, state laws regarding the enforceability of post-nuptial agreements vary dramatically. Consult your own lawyer and check the rules in your jurisdictions before signing.
What is the difference between a prenuptial agreement vs postnuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal document made before marriage that details how both parties will divide their assets if the marriage dissolves. It becomes valid only at the point of marriage. On the other hand, postnuptial agreements are contracts made after marriage. Other than timing, they’re almost identical to prenuptial agreements in every other way.