PhotoYou probably know what a prenup is. A rich actor, getting married for the third time, asks his bride-to-be to sign a document that limits her settlement in the event of a divorce.

But now “postnuptials” are coming into vogue. In fact, more than half of divorce attorneys in a poll of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyer (AAML) members, say they have seen an increase in postnups during the last three years.

A postnuptial agreement is a written contract executed after a marriage or civil union, to settle the couple's affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce. The primary difference between it and a prenup is it takes place after the marriage. It can cover a wide variety of issues, including possible conflicts over finances, property, assets, children, support and probate matters.

And interestingly enough, the lawyers say it's the wives who want the agreement. Thirty-six percent of the lawyers in the survey said they had noted an increase in women initiating the request for a postnup.

"Postnuptial agreements are becoming a valuable tool to avoid trouble spots from escalating into serious conflicts that can jeopardize a marriage," said Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "It is interesting to note the increase in wives requesting postnups, because often one of the most common motivators for these agreements is a dramatic change in the financial status of one or both partners during the marriage."

Overall, 51 percent of AAML members have cited an increase in the number of postnuptial agreements during the past three years, while 46 percent said they found no change.

Postnuptial agreements only came into wide use in the U.S. within the last 30 years or so. Their use began to rise in the early 1970s, along with the divorce rate.


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