Most of our readers have probably heard of a prenuptial agreement: a legal document signed before a marriage begins. The prenup can outline a number of important considerations; most notably, it can determine how the couple’s assets will be split if the marriage ends in divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are common knowledge, but fewer people have heard of postnuptial agreements. Postnuptial agreements are signed not before the marriage, but during. Apart from that important difference, they have many of the same powers of a prenuptial agreement.

Why would someone sign a postnuptial agreement? According to a recent article by CNBC, they are a good idea for those who wish to become stay-at-home parents.

Often, after a child is born, one parent or the other considers becoming a stay-at-home parent. Traditionally, the role is filled by the woman, though recently stay-at-home dads have become more common.

When a spouse decides to become a stay-at-home parent, he or she takes the marriage in an entirely new direction, a change that often comes at the cost of the spouse’s career. When a spouse leaves one’s career to care for a child, it can be extremely difficult to go back to it years down the road. That’s fine if the marriage stays together forever, but if it ends in divorce, the situation could leave the nonworking spouse with a great deal of difficulty in reentering the workplace.

A postnuptial agreement, then, can provide peace of mind to stay-at-home parents. It can outline exactly what the nonworking parent will get if the marriage ends. This could include alimony for a certain period of time, time that the nonworking spouse can use to reenter the workplace.

Childrearing years are a person’s most valuable in terms of wages earned. This is the time when, in the corporate world, people are climbing the ladder and seeking better pay and benefits. A postnuptial agreement can ensure that each spouse knows exactly what they are entitled to in a potential divorce before they make the decision to leave the workplace.

Source: CNBC, “Why stay-at-home moms need a ‘postnup’” Jeff Landers, Dec. 21, 2013