You are probably passingly familiar with a prenuptial agreement. Perhaps you even know people who have signed them before getting married. Postnuptial agreements are less common, and fewer people are aware of them. A postnuptial agreement accomplishes more or less the same objectives that a prenuptial agreement does. The difference is that you enter into it after the wedding.
Not all jurisdictions allow postnuptial agreements, but California is one that does. A postnuptial agreement can offer significant advantages to you and your spouse, but there are also limitations on what it can do.
Advantages of a postnuptial agreement
You and your spouse may have talked about a postnuptial agreement before getting married. However, you may have gotten so caught up in wedding plans that you failed to draft and sign it before the wedding. If you now have regrets about not signing a prenup when you had the chance, a postnuptial agreement allows you to correct that oversight.
California is a community property state, meaning that a divorce splits your assets between you and your spouse 50-50. If you have assets, such as a business, that you would like to remain separate property, you can establish that with a postnuptial agreement.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, many couples only consider a postnuptial agreement when something has gone wrong in the marriage. Ironically, however, making a postnuptial agreement may actually help to save your marriage because resolving financial issues can help rebuild broken trust between you and your spouse.
Limitations of a postnuptial agreement
With all the potential advantages of a postnuptial agreement, California also places some limitations on them. California state law views spousal support as something for the court to decide, so you cannot make these provisions in a postnuptial agreement.
Another limitation on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements alike is that you cannot use them to make child custody decisions or set up child support. This is true not only in California but in all 50 states.