Your Hometown Attorney
For Family Law

What is the point of having a postnuptial agreement?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2022 | Family Law

Most people would agree that marriage takes effort, and even when one or both spouses go into it with the best of intentions, things do not always work out for the best. The problem with ending it, however, is that the longer you are in the relationship, the more emotionally and financially enmeshed you become.

Although many will decide to soldier on as their dissatisfaction grows, couples in Pennsylvania may consider creating a postnuptial agreement. Unlike prenups, which soon-to-be newlyweds sign to protect separate property when they begin the marriage, couples in the Keystone State turn to postnups to formalize their wishes concerning property division and other matters in the event of divorce.

How can a postnuptial agreement save a marriage?

Many couples who are thinking about divorce want a measure of control in the process, so they draw up an agreement on how they would prefer to take care of issues such as property division. While many states only permit a postnup to include financial considerations, in Pennsylvania it may also address child custody and support, or alimony.

Many scenarios prompt a serious reconsideration of the marriage:

  • A severe breakdown in the relationship due to infidelity, alcohol or substance abuse issues, or the wasteful and financially harmful spending down of assets.
  • A change in the financial status of one or both spouses, such as a windfall inheritance, loss of income of one spouse, or increase in profit that prompts a restructuring of the terms of an original prenuptial agreement.
  • A career change of one spouse who wishes to keep these financial matters separate. This can become necessary if they go into business with outside partners who require a spousal clause in the operating agreement.

Even though the growing use of postnups in celebrity marriages has made these agreements more popular, it is important to realize that a marriage is after all a financial arrangement, not just an emotional commitment. When the marriage is in trouble, it makes sense to protect its assets and provide a smooth transition if the divorce does happen.

What is a postnup in Pennsylvania?

Because Pennsylvania has no legal process for separation, a postnuptial agreement serves this purpose. As a private arrangement, a prenup formalizes the wishes of both parties regarding all aspects of divorce, including the separation of marital assets, rights of use of the family home and other property, who will pay what bills, as well as issues of custody and support.

Pennsylvania law treats a postnup as any private business contract, with the provisions that it may be invalid if signed under duress or if one party did not provide full disclosure before signing the document.

Although a postnup can be a temporary arrangement while two people resolve their issues, it can become a permanent separation agreement for couples who do not wish to divorce. It also provides a smooth transition should the couple eventually decide to part ways.