No, you didn’t read the title of this post incorrectly. We did indeed say the word postnup; but as many of our readers may be wondering: what is a postnuptial agreement and what could it mean for same-sex couples in the state?
Most people know what a prenuptial agreement is. Signed before the couple gets married, it is a legal document that can outline everything from how assets are divided during a divorce and how disputes will be settled. Much like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement is drawn up after a couple is already married. These new just-in-case documents are now gaining popularity in almost every state, especially now with the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
So what will this mean for same-sex couples here in Washington? First off, even if a couple is not considering divorce at this time, problems can still surface months even years down the road. Drafting a safety net now while cooler heads prevail could save you and your spouse from complicated disputes and prolonged litigation down the road.
The first thing to consider is whether postnuptials are offered in the state. Speaking with a knowledgeable attorney skilled in family law can tell you whether these contracts are legal in Washington and whether drafting a document such as this is a good idea in your situation.
For same-sex couples, after the repeal of DOMA, federal benefits will now come into play during divorce proceedings. Couples may want a postnuptial for just these circumstances because they can usually guide the division of asset process quicker. In the event that the couple signed a prenuptial before getting married, the DOMA decision may force them to reconsider the wording in their current contract and may want to contact a lawyer to see if a postnuptial can change that too.
The fact that postnuptials are on the rise across the nation does not necessarily mean that married couples are expecting their marriages to fail but rather suggests that people are starting to see how frustrating divorce can be and want to mitigate that stress with an uncontested divorce.
Source: NBC News, “If you ran out of time for a prenup agreement, try a postnup,” Kelley Holland, July 5, 2013