You have probably heard about prenuptial agreements, but have you ever heard about postnuptial agreements? With the economy in shambles, everyone is trying to save money, and that may mean that divorce is out of the question for many unhappy couples. I talked with Keith Orenstein, a prominent Manhattan attorney who specializes in matrimonial law to learn more about postnuptial agreements.
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is essentially the same as a prenuptial agreement, except that couples enter into it during their marriage as opposed to before marriage with a prenuptial agreement. There are many reasons a couple may choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement, and it can even be used to alter the terms of an original prenuptial agreement.
The Limitations of a Postnup
A postnuptial agreement can be tailored to fit any particular couple’s needs and to suit their unique situation. Like a prenuptial agreement, it can be used to determine the division of assets in a divorce, or to set out a household budget. It can even be used to determine how often the in-laws can visit or how many weekend vacations each spouse can take. The possibilities for postnuptial agreements are infinite, and can be created to fit your personal concerns. However, there are limits to their scope. Under New York State law, postnuptial agreements cannot be used to decided issues of child custody or visitation rights.
The Costs of a Divorce Versus a Postnuptial Agreement
I asked Mr. Orenstein about the costs of postnuptial agreements and the costs of divorces in his experience practicing matrimonial law in Manhattan the past twenty-five years. He told me that in his experience, divorces tend to run into the tens of thousands, whereas postnuptial agreements can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. The costs will vary depending on where you live, but postnuptial agreements cost significantly less than divorce.
Are Postnuptial Agreements a Cheaper Alternative to Divorce?
Postnuptial agreements are being used increasingly in these uncertain economic times to help couples deal with changes in their financial circumstances. Mr. Orenstein told me that many couples use postnuptial agreements as a “roadmap” for divorce. But in his experience, the entire process of discussing and working through those contentious issues can help bring couples closer together again, and even save their marriage. Postnuptial agreements can be a temporary, cheaper alternative to divorce, and can even prevent divorce from taking place.
Keith Orenstein of Orenstein & Orenstein, LLC