Some people will refer to a prenuptial agreement or its near cousin, the postnuptial agreement, as a plan to fail. They say this because one of the main purposes of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is to provide guidance for the couple and the courts in the event of a divorce. However, with divorce so common these days, it's more like planning for one of the two only outcomes to marriage.
By setting their own terms prior to marriage, couples protect their existing assets at the time that they sign the contract as well as future assets that could wind up squandered on a contentious divorce. If you got married without a prenuptial agreement but have since run into marital issues, a postnuptial agreement could offer you a chance to save your marriage and also your assets in case you can't.
A postnuptial agreement can remind your spouse of consequences
Sometimes, couples find themselves struggling just because they have grown apart over the years. That can mean intense efforts to reconnect, including therapy or taking classes together, and a postnuptial agreement can be a way to also protect themselves if such efforts fail.
However, some marriages begin to struggle because one spouse starts to engage in questionable behavior, such as extramarital affairs or addictive indulgences. As their spouse, you share some of the risk that they bring into the home through those activities, whether it's the risk of catching a disease from an unfaithful partner or the potential financial consequences of addiction.
Your postnuptial agreement can include expectations for both of you to engage in certain behaviors or not engage in certain behaviors. It can also assign specific financial penalties for a failure to fulfill those promises. For example, your spouse could forfeit a certain percentage of their marital assets in the event that they backslide and engage in the behavior prohibited in the contract.
Your postnuptial agreement only protects you if it's valid
Some people like to imagine that cutting corners with legal documents by downloading templates and executing them themselves is a clever way to save money. While that sort of process can save you money at the time that you fill out the forms, it would end up costing you a lot in the future.
A properly executed marital contract like a postnuptial agreement typically requires highly specific language targeting the circumstances of your marriage. It should also receive a full review by an attorney representing each individual spouse and notarization at the time of signing.
Working with an attorney who is familiar with complex family law issues in Colorado can improve your chances of success when creating a postnuptial agreement or seeking to enforce it as you file for divorce.