Prenuptial vs. Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are marital agreements that both members of a couple can sign. These legal documents provide space for couples to specify terms regarding the division of assets and property in the event of a divorce. 

Some couples choose to create a prenup or postnup because they want the valuable protection it provides. By signing, they take steps to protect their assets and other property just in case the marriage ends unexpectedly.

If you are contemplating marriage or are already married, it’s helpful to understand the differences between prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, as one of these documents might benefit you.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, sometimes called a premarital agreement, is a legal contract that a couple signs before marriage. These agreements typically lay out the terms of how property, finances, and marital assets would be divided in the event of a divorce or separation.

What is a postnuptial agreement?

Postnup agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements, but a key difference exists: They are for married couples. Like prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements typically address property division and finances in the event of a divorce or separation.

What are the differences between prenups and postnups?

The main difference between prenups and postnups has to do with timing. A prenuptial agreement is signed before the wedding, often with the purpose of safeguarding certain assets or property in mind. Examples include an inheritance, previously owned real estate, or a family business. A prenup can also outline how debts would be divided in divorce and establish rules for child custody or child support.

Unlike prenup agreements, which must be signed before marriage, postnup agreements are signed during the marriage. Postnups appeal to couples who may have acquired significant new assets or experienced changes in their finances since getting married. For example, a couple may decide to enter into a postnup if one spouse inherits a family heirloom and wants to make sure it stays in the family.

Why should I consider getting a prenuptial agreement?

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a prenup is the financial protection it provides if the marriage ends. These are binding contracts that could potentially prevent an unfair or unwanted division of assets.

Why should I consider getting a postnuptial agreement?

One of the main reasons a person might consider getting a postnup is peace of mind. Like prenups, postnups are binding contracts. With a postnup in place, you know exactly how property division and the division of assets would go in the event of a divorce. This knowledge prevents conflicts and disagreements down the road, should a divorce settlement come to play.

FAQ about prenups and postnups

Is a postnup an agreement for divorce?

No. It is an agreement on how to divide items should your marriage end in divorce.

Can prenups be signed after marriage?

No. Prenups must be signed prior to a couple getting married.

Is it better to have a prenup or postnup?

It depends on your situation. It's always wise to protect yourself, so if you're already married and concerned about property or financial matters, a postnup would be for you. If you haven't gotten married yet, it might be a good idea to discuss a prenup with your fiance.

At Hello Divorce, we’ve helped many couples reach divorce settlements that satisfy both spouses. We understand the angst you may feel about keeping separate property separate. We have seen couples struggle over what to do with community property to the point of needing mediation and even litigation. And while nobody in a happy marriage wants to think about this possibility, the high divorce rate suggests that having these agreements in place “just in case” is a smart move.

Although we don’t prepare prenups at this time, we do provide legal review of prenups that have already been established. If you’re married and would like to create a postnuptial agreement with your spouse, we can provide this service for you at a flat, affordable rate. Click here to read about our postnuptial agreement service.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.