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Should you consider a prenup or postnup?

When it was announced that media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Wendi, were ending their marriage, many assumed that the divorce would be long and messy. However, it was soon reported that the couple not only had a prenuptial agreement, but they also had at least two postnuptial agreements. A postnuptial agreement is essentially the same thing as a prenuptial agreement only it is entered after the marriage has already taken place.

Like prenuptial agreements, postnups can help to protect personal assets and income in the event of a divorce. They can be useful in situations where a couple didn't have time to enter a prenup before the marriage or when circumstances changed during the marriage. For example, Murdoch and his wife entered a new postnup after both of their daughters were born.

According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 51 percent of divorce attorneys reported seeing an increase in postnups from 2009 to 2012. Family law experts say that the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and new state laws recognizing same-sex marriage could also lead to a rise in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

As one family law attorney recently explained to USA TODAY, many same-sex couples may choose to enter postnuptial agreements after tying the knot in order to dictate how "property that otherwise would have been deemed separate" should be divided in the event of a divorce. They might not have wanted to postpone the wedding in order to create a prenup, but that's where the postnup comes in, another attorney said.

The attorney said postnuptial agreements are also common among couples who have had problems in their marriage but have decided to give it one more shot. The agreement lets each spouse know what a property settlement would look like if they marriage should not last. Additionally, the attorney said postnups are often used when one spouse receives a large gift or inheritance that he or she wants to keep separate.

If you think a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement would be of value in your marriage, talk to an experienced family law attorney in your are for more details.

Source: USA TODAY, "Why postnups may be picking up," Kelley Holland, July 14, 2013

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