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Wife uses postnuptial agreement to protect her share of assets

Very few people in Philadelphia get married knowing that they will divorce. Unfortunately, all the best intentions and love at the beginning of a marriage won't save some relationships. And that's fine, not all marriages are meant to work out, but it is important that when they don't, both spouses are protected. Especially with those couples who have a substantial marital estate, protecting assets and ensuring that both spouses get a fair divorce settlement is important.

One tool that people use to protect themselves and their shares of a marital estate is a postnuptial agreement. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement is signed after a marriage has already taken place. Whether it is signed immediately after a marriage or 23 years after the marriage, it establishes who will get what in a divorce.

For one wealthy couple from New York, a postnuptial agreement was used to protect a wife's assets from her husband's bad investments. Twenty-three years after getting married, the couple drafted a postnuptial agreement that gave the wife sole ownership of nearly $2 million in jewelry and $11 million of home furnishings. Moreover, the wife was to receive $12 million in art and both of the family homes if she and her husband were to divorce.

Five months after signing the agreement, the couple filed for divorce and, presumably, the property was divided according to the postnuptial agreement.

Although most people in Philadelphia don't have the kind of marital estate that this couple had, it is not unreasonable to assume that couples here could benefit from a postnuptial agreement. Even if the marriage is nowhere near divorce, an agreement can help ensure that both spouses are protected if the relationship ever ends.

Source: The New York Times, "With fortune falling, a 1 percent divorce," Julie Creswell, Feb. 1, 2014

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