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Why should you get a postnuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements, or "prenups" have become so common that most everyone knows what they are. They're not just for movie stars, hedge fund managers and sports franchise owners anymore. They are drawn up by Maryland couples across the economic spectrum.

If you didn't get a prenup before you walked down the aisle, it's not too late to draw up a postnuptial agreement. A postnup details things like how you and your spouse will divide your assets and debts and how you will deal with financial matters should you break up.

The reasons for getting a postnup are often similar to those for a prenup. However, a postnup can address things that a couple may not have anticipated when they got married or if they have a prenup, when that was drafted.

A postnup allows you to detail how your property and other assets will be divided. This includes assets that you each brought into the marriage, any acquired individually after you married and that which you obtained together. It also allows you to spell out how debts will be divided if the marriage ends and one spouse's financial responsibilities to the other.

Among the most common reasons for couples to get a prenup include the following:

-- One spouse has left the workforce to raise the children and wants some financial protection should the marriage end.

-- One or both spouses has learned of an impending inheritance and wants to protect that.

-- A couple has started a business together and wants to codify how that will be divided if they break up.

-- One or both spouses has children from another relationship or other dependents, and they may want to ensure that some of their assets will be available for them should they divorce.

-- The couple or perhaps one spouse has gained a great deal of wealth since the marriage.

Many experts recommend that spouses retain separate attorneys to help ensure that each person's interests are protected. This may also help prevent one spouse from saying that he or she was coerced into signing the agreement or wasn't fully aware of the terms to which they agreed should the postnup need to be used in a divorce.

Source: ABC News, "Forget the Prenup: Why You May Need a Postnuptial Agreement," A.J. Smith, accessed July 20, 2015

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