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How can someone effectively propose a postnuptial agreement to a spouse?

Some people sign prenuptial agreements before getting married. They often need to have a somewhat difficult conversation with their fiancé about why they want a marital agreement. There are probably some marriages that never occur because one fiancé has very strong feelings about prenuptial agreements or takes offense at the suggestion of signing one.

Those who have already married may regret that they did so without any contractual protection in place. Someone about to embark on a new business venture or who just received an inheritance from a grandparent’s estate may worry about protecting their resources and shielding their spouse from liability. People also want protection from marital misconduct.

A post-nuptial agreement could help to achieve those goals. How can someone talk to their spouse about signing a marital agreement when they’re already wed, so a prenup isn’t an option?

Focusing on the positives

Someone confronted with an unexpected conversation may need some time to recalibrate emotionally and mentally. They will have an easier time doing so if they do not feel attacked or acute. Basing the discussion on the perceived failing of a spouse could lead to an adversarial approach to the conversation that will benefit neither party.

The spouse suggesting the postnuptial agreement can instead keep the conversation focused on the positive. For example, every postnuptial agreement needs to contain terms that are beneficial for both spouses. The courts typically do not uphold agreements that benefit only one party, as such terms often seem unconscionable. The ability of each spouse to ask for certain concessions or protections can be an attractive feature. In fact, the act of discussing what to include in the agreement can be beneficial for the marriage overall. Some research indicates that those who negotiate marital agreements actually strengthen their relationships by addressing stressors and clarifying expectations.

Finally, many people do like the idea that if a divorce ever does occur, it would not result in a messy fight in family court if expectations are set in a post-nup. Most people can acknowledge that clear expectations could take a lot of the stress out of divorce proceedings. If divorce has come up as a possibility in recent months, a spouse might readily acknowledge the benefits of settling disputes now while the relationship is still somewhat amicable instead of battling it out in court later.

Keeping a conversation about this matter positive can help people bring up the often personal and sometimes emotional topic of postnuptial agreements with minimal conflict.

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