The person you marry is never quite the person you thought you were marrying. And sometimes that’s great! Sure, you already knew he or she was the love of your life, but it can be a constant source of surprise and joy to discover new facets of your spouse’s character: enthusiasm for things you have always overlooked, talents that you have never before seen someone display, and depths of personal strength and courage.
Some new families have a different experience. A few months into a marriage or a domestic partnership, you may become aware of growing conflict between you and your spouse. Perhaps your values or priorities in life are simply too different for the relationship to be stable. Perhaps there has been a sudden, dramatic change in your life circumstances that has caused friction between you. Maybe, even after a short time together, you already find yourselves growing apart.
A mediated postnuptial agreement may be the answer you need.
What is a postnuptial agreement?
No doubt you have already heard about prenuptial agreements: legal contracts signed by spouses-to-bed before they get married. A postnuptial agreement is similar, except that it is prepared and signed by the parties after they have begun their marriage or domestic partnership.
Usually, the couple comes to a lawyer after recognizing that there is an area of conflict—or potential disagreement—between them. The lawyer helps them draft a postnuptial contract to identify and address their disagreements. Some of the issues that are most often considered are:
- Conflicts over money, credit card debt, and spending habits
- Disputes over raising children, relations with children from a previous marriage, or disagreement over whether to have children
- Uncertainty after a major change in life, such as the loss of a job or a huge financial windfall
- One spouse’s behavioral problems, such as alcoholism, compulsive gambling, or drug abuse
- Imbalance in responsibility for home upkeep and working outside the home
The lawyer will help the couple draft an agreement between the two of them that then should be reviewed by attorneys representing each of partners. When both sides decide that the agreement is fair, the couple will sign the document, which then becomes a legal contract governing their future behavior.
How mediation helps
Many couples find that the influence of an impartial Pennsylvania attorney mediator is the best part of developing a workable postnuptial agreement. A mediator is skilled at resolving conflict and encouraging compromise. He or she can cut through the emotional fog to help the spouses understand their true interests. This process of reaching a meeting of minds—necessary for creating a valid contract between spouses—is why creating a mediated postnuptial agreement is so often effective at preserving marriages and relationships.
Although postnuptial agreements remain less common than the more familiar prenup, they are becoming more widely used. A majority of the matrimonial lawyers surveyed in 2012 reported that the number of such contracts had definitely increased during the last three years.
Divorce Done Right provides family mediation services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and South Florida. Our trained and experienced affiliates also work as attorneys, social workers, and mental health professionals. To locate a postnuptial agreement mediator near you, or to get answers to your questions about the mediation process, call us toll-free at (866) 337-4448 or fill in the online contact form. We want the opportunity to help heal your relationship.