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What is a postnuptial agreement's role in divorce proceedings?

For thousands of years, families have negotiated a trade of land and other assets prior to a couple's marriage. In the past, families were ultimately deciding what would happen upon the death of one of the spouses. However, within the last few decades, many couples have agreed to a prenuptial agreement that details what will happen in the event a marriage ends due to divorce. There is another tool available to help ease the end of a marriage for couples in New Hampshire and elsewhere -- a postnuptial agreement.

A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenup except that it is signed after a marriage takes place. While prenups are typically difficult to successfully challenge in court, it is more difficult to predict whether a postnup will be upheld in court because they are newer and not used as often. For those reasons, some professionals recommend a prenup over a postnup.

However, there are several reasons why a couple may choose to create a postnup. In some cases, there may have simply been insufficient time before the wedding took place. Some couples may go through an unexpected change of circumstances due to a successful business venture or inheritance, and they want to ensure it is protected. Some postnups are signed by couples who are struggling or estranged and want to take steps to avoid a difficult divorce.

Regardless of the reason, many lawyers in New Hampshire and other areas of the country claim that they are creating more postnuptial agreements. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers indicates that half of the respondents are seeing more requests for such documents. Having an experienced attorney create and review such a document can help safeguard it from a successful challenge in the event of a divorce.

Source: bloomberg.com, "Why More Couples Are Signing Postnuptial Agreements", Ben Steverman, April 28, 2017

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