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What is a postnuptial agreement?

Put simply, a postnuptial agreement is a contract between you and your legal spouse. Most Pennsylvanians are familiar with the concept of a prenuptial agreement, which is executed before the wedding ceremony. Prenuptial agreements set forth terms on any matters that concern you and your spouse but often have to do with finances. A postnuptial agreement may be useful for you if something about your situation changes after you are married or difficulties arise that need to be clarified on paper.

As with a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can be used to agree on financial issues such as division of assets and the payment of support in the event of a divorce. While money is often the subject of postnuptial agreements, they can also be utilized to help you deal with issues concerning family-owned businesses, raising children, division of household labor or when the family will take vacations. They may also set forth consequences for specific behaviors, such as if you or your spouse is unfaithful, gambles excessively or abuses drugs.

Postnuptial agreements also differ from prenuptial agreements in that before you married, you had no legal claim to the assets your partner acquired before the marriage. However, now that you are married, you have rights under the law concerning assets acquired during your marriage. A prenuptial agreement may limit the amount of marital assets you receive in a divorce. A postnuptial agreement can address premarital and marital property, so that when the agreement is executed, there is a clear direction on what you and your spouse are each entitled to.

When it comes to the courts, most states will enforce postnuptial agreements as long as they were fairly negotiated. However, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania does not use fairness as a criteria when evaluating the validity of postnuptial agreements. As long as you and your spouse fully disclose all of your assets during the negotiation of the agreement, Pennsylvania courts will likely enforce the terms of your postnuptial agreement.

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