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Postnuptial agreements should be clear and fair to avoid challenge

A postnuptial agreement is an agreement between a couple that has already married. These agreements frequently cover estate planning matters such as the division of property in the event of death and many of the common issues typically addressed in prenuptial agreements, such as what happens to assets in the event of a divorce.

It is important that a person who wants a postnuptial agreement clearly communicates the reasons for the agreement to his or her spouse. Ideally, both sides are represented by experienced family law attorneys so the postnuptial agreement is less likely to be challenged in the future.

A postnuptial agreement was at the center of CNBC’s documentary, Divorce Wars. The documentary follows couples embroiled in contentious, multi-million dollar divorces, the Huffington Post’s divorce blog reports.

One woman talked about her bitter divorce from a high-profile businessman who had her sign a postnuptial agreement six weeks after the wedding. The agreement states that everything the woman and her then-husband acquired as separate property would remain separate property.

“At the time I signed the agreement I really trusted my husband, I trusted that he wouldn’t do anything that would put me in harm’s way,” she said.

The marriage quickly soured and the woman felt that prenuptial agreement prevented her from obtaining assets that she was entitled to.

“He told me either we fix this marriage today or I’ll divorce you tomorrow,” the woman said. “And so the next day I went into my therapist’s office and he had left a message for her to tell me that he was filing for divorce.”

Such surprises may be avoided by considering a solid prenuptial agreement and discussing financial matters before the marriage begins.

Source: The Huffington Post, “‘Divorce Wars’: Justine Musk Talks Split From Elon Musk,” Ashley Reich, 3/29/11