Special Report: Post-nuptial marriage contracts

We've all heard of pre-nuptial agreements, but the latest "contract" to gain steam among spouses isn't signed until after the honeymoon is over!
We've all heard of pre-nuptial agreements, but the latest "contract" to gain steam among spouses isn't signed until after the honeymoon is over!

Brian Morache and his wife Miriam are past divorcees who recently tied the knot.

"Both of us have been married twice. Her first one ended O.K.; the second one was a nightmare."

This time, Miriam wanted to protect her assets, so she and Brian signed a post-nuptial agreement.

"I think there's a bit more peace of mind, a bit more stability in a sense."

A post-nup is a legally binding document that's similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, but is signed after a couple says their vows.

With divorce rates and litigation costs on the rise, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says a growing number of couples are looking into these so-called "marital contracts."

"Any two people who feel that they're in conflict and feel that a marriage may be dissolved should try and define what they would do in the event of a divorce in advance,” says Ken Altshuler, with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “It does bring clarity to the situation."

Some happy couples are also signing post-nups for a sense of security.

The terms of the agreement can deal with practically anything, from checking and savings accounts, to debt and child support, to personal property.

"We have many instances where people talk about who is going to have custody of the pet,” Altshuler says. “I've had different pieces of china and silverware that were divided in advance."

For brian and his wife, working out who gets what was simple.

"What we come into the marriage with is what we would each leave with."

Brian and Miriam were lucky. Allison Pescosolido, co-founder of Divorce Detox, says post-nups can often be tricky to approach.

"Both people are going to have to give up what their ideal is,” she says. “You also want to walk away if it starts getting heated and set a specific time to get back together."

Pescosolido also recommends reaching out to a therapist.

No matter how you choose to go about it…

"The most important thing is a full disclosure… finances, assets, and debts," says Altshuler.

Otherwise, the post-nup could be thrown out in court.

Brian and Miriam look forward to a lifetime of love, but consider the post-nup a kind of insurance policy.

"Its almost like putting on a life jacket when you're going to go boating,” Brian says. “You don't anticipate using it, but you want it there."

Currently, Ohio is the only state that prohibits post-nuptial agreements.

For more information on how post-nups are handled in Arkansas, contact a lawyer in your community.
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