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How to ease tensions and simplify your divorce

Are you worried that your marriage is about to end? Have you encountered serious issues that you feel inevitably lead to divorce? Issues with infidelity, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling or just growing apart can leave you feeling like divorce is the only possible outcome. However, if you and your spouse still want to make your marriage work, there may be an option for you.

Agreeing to sit down and create a postnuptial agreement, also called a midnup, could address some of those concerns. These documents are essentially a contract between spouses outlining expectations and how assets should get split up in the event of a divorce. They can help you address issues and could even prevent a divorce.

What can a postnuptial agreement include?

While Pennsylvania law does not specifically address midnup agreements, there are some important cases that provide legal precedent. For example, in a 2013 case, the courts chose to uphold the terms of such an agreement, even though one spouse claimed duress and the other failed to properly disclose all financial assets at the time the contract was signed.

Generally, the courts can only uphold certain kinds of conditions, typically financial ones about asset division or potentially spousal support. However, the courts will not allow a marital agreement to supersede court authority on issues like child custody and support. Those decisions must always come from concern about the best interests of the children involved. Postnuptial and even prenuptial agreements tend to focus on the best interests of the individual parents instead.

Some couples choose to include special clauses about marital expectations and behavior. For example, they could include a financial penalty to a spouse if he or she has an extramarital affair or if there is a return to other problem behaviors. While the courts may not always uphold these terms if one spouse contests the agreement, this kind of language can still help you avoid divorce.

How can a postnup help your family?

One of the most important things that postnuptial agreements can do is to offer an alternative way forward that isn't directly headed toward divorce. They allow each spouse to make his or her expectations clear and allow the couple to address the problems that could otherwise lead to divorce. Knowing that there is a potential penalty involved for poor behavior could help the spouses improve their relationship and focus on each other and their family.

Additionally, since you've taken the time to spell out exactly what assets each spouse will get in a divorce, executing a midnup could remove some of the financial incentive for a spouse to seek divorce in the first place. If you worry about the future of a marriage, a midnup could be a wise move. It could help save your marriage or at least ensure a simpler divorce if that ends up happening.

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