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Postnuptial agreements may ease property division upon divorce

During the rush of excitement and anticipation that accompanies an engagement, many Massachusetts couples neglect to have a serious discussion about finances. Even fewer sit down and draft a prenuptial agreement. While the reluctance to address these issues at the onset of a marriage is understandable, it is not a wise financial move. There can be serious ramifications if the relationship ends in divorce and property division becomes an issue.

Luckily, the exchange of vows does not mean that a couple has lost their chance to address their financial future. Many couples are turning to postnuptial agreements, which are a form of contract that addresses the same range of issues as a prenuptial agreement , but is drafted after a couple is married.

Some couples choose to sign a postnup to avoid the repetition of financial problems they experienced during a previous divorce. Others simply want a measure of security as they move forward in their new relationship. The terms of a postnuptial agreement can vary between couples, but one common stipulation is that both parties are able to leave a marriage with the assets that they brought into the partnership.

Just as with a prenuptial agreement, the drafting of a postnup forces the full disclosure of each partner's financial standing, including assets and debts. This disclosure protects the validity of the agreement. However, it can also serve as a valuable tool to prompt a discussion about investment goals, debt management and retirement planning.

One couple who opted for a postnuptial agreement may have summed it up best. The husband made an analogy comparing the contract with wearing a life jacket when one goes boating. You hope you won't need it, but you want to have it in case things don't go as planned. For those couples who divorce and experience contentious and prolonged debate over property division, having a properly drafted postnuptial agreement could have made the difference between sinking and swimming.

Source: KABC-TV Los Angeles, "Postnuptial agreements becoming more common, signed after couples get married," Ric Romero, Aug. 29, 2012

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