Many Minnesota residents see prenuptial agreements as unromantic because it strikes them as self-defeating to contemplate divorce while preparing for marriage. But if that is the case, is a postnuptial agreement better or worse?
As the names suggest, a prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people before they marry; a postnuptial agreement is a contract between two people who are already married. Both are typically used to spell out the division of property between the two partners - a matter that is otherwise not legally settled until divorce.
Minnesota and most of the other states recognize postnuptial contracts as enforceable, and some reports indicate that they are growing in popularity. Some analysts say that their popularity is sure to grow even more with the advent of legalized same-sex marriage in Minnesota and the overturning of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
When a married couple divorces, they must separate their personal pre-marital property from the property they acquired during the marriage. This can get very complicated, especially when one of the spouses owns business interests or other assets that are difficult to pin down with a dollar figure. Another common complication comes after one spouse inherits wealth in his or her name only, but then the two spouses co-mingle that money with their marital assets. Upon divorce, it can be difficult to look at these co-mingled funds and figure out where the personal property stops and the marital property begins.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can settle these issues before a divorce, thus removing them from the rest of the negotiations and making a divorce quicker and less painful. But analysts say that they can also sometimes strengthen the marriage. As everyone in Minnesota who has ever been married knows, money is one of the most common sources of arguments in a marriage. Settling money issues through one of these agreements can sometimes neutralize those arguments, allowing the better parts of the marriage to thrive.
Source: Today.com, "If you ran out of time for a prenup agreement, try a postnup," Kelley Holland, July 5, 2013