Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Getting Unstuck With A Postnup - Part 1

What with upside down mortgages, jobs on the chopping block, and savings in the tank, it's no wonder that a lot of people are feeling insecure, and maybe a little bit angry too. No doubt, the pressure created by the financial downturn on many marriages has already gotten to the breaking point, and the idea of divorce is starting to sound pretty good to some. 

But, according to a recent article in the New York Times, with nearly one in six homes worth less than the mortgage owed on it, breaking up is getting harder to do. Many spouses are having to put off divorce until better times return. Some hardy souls are even considering the nearly unthinkable: staying together and making their marriage work.

Unfortunately, the sour economy is creating problems for both weak marriages - where spouses are emotionally separated, but legally joined at the hip - as well as for strong ones  - where differing financial preferences, which were previously overlooked, start to become more contentious. 

Many couples who are forced to live together have to face such questions as, who will be responsible for which expenses going forward? who can they leave their assets to in the event of death? and, if a divorce finally does occur, how will whatever is left of the marital property be divided?  These questions don't just disappear by themselves.

This does not mean that nothing can be done to address these issues right now. Married people do have an option: a postnuptial agreement. Like a prenuptial agreement, but entered into during the marriage instead of before, a post-nuptial agreement can provide the security and peace of mind that comes from having definite plan for the future. 

It’s even possible that, by going through the process of discussing and crafting a viable post-nuptial agreement, divorce just might be a little bit less inevitable.