Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Monday, January 13, 2014

Protecting the Stay-at-Home Spouse: Exploring the Wisdom of a Postnup Agreement

You may have read an article on recently about a concept that at first sounds strange: development of a postnuptial agreement, or “postnup.” As you might imagine, the postnuptial agreement is similar to a more-familiar concept, the prenuptial agreement (or prenup) that is put into place before getting married to protect both parties in the event of a divorce.

In this instance, though, the postnup comes after marriage and can make a world of difference in your life, especially if you are a stay-at-home mom/dad or planning to leave the work force to become one.

Is a postnup agreement wise, or even necessary? Here, we’ll explore the wisdom of this type of agreement and why you may want to consider signing one.

The Purpose of the Postnup

As with a prenup, a postnup is designed to legally protect both parties and their interests in the event of a divorce.

No one plans on getting divorced, naturally, but both agreements recognize the reality of the world in which we live: divorce happens, and quite often. In the United States, an estimated 40 to 50 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce. Unfortunately, Alabama has one of the highest rates of divorce in the nation.

A postnup agreement is a means by which you and your spouse can memorialize and protect the promises you make to one another after marriage while your intentions toward one another are clear. One such application would be to use a postnup to recognize a couples’ agreement to have one spouse leave the work force to stay-at-home with the children.  In such instance, the postnup can provide a means for recognizing that the stay at home parent is giving up present and future earnings in order to take care of the children, which is a vital service to the family and one for which he or she should be compensated in the event of a divorce.

Is a Postnup Necessary?

To examine the potential necessity of a postnup agreement, it may help you to review a few key stats concerning stay-at-home spouses and the economic impact of forgoing work and starting and raising a family.

The average age of a first-time mother in the U.S. is 25. During the mid-to-late 20’s is a crucial period for career-building for men and women alike. The median income for a person aged 25-34 is $32,000. The median income for a person aged 35 is $35,856. Leaving the work force for 10 years to be a dedicated stay-at-home parent, then, could result in a loss of $320,000 in income and being behind by $3,000 per year in salary compared to those who have been in the work force for a decade.

Those are just median figures, as well. For spouses who achieve higher education, the gap grows. A person with a Bachelor’s degree makes a median income of $51,168; with a Master’s degree, it is $62,400. Not being able to work to capitalize on education – or not being able to obtain higher levels of education – can result in a substantial loss of earning power for each year spent at home and not in the work force.

Factor in lost promotions and lost business opportunities and the financial loss becomes even greater.

Those considering the need to forego one income in order to best provide for the needs of a growing family may want to consider a postnup as a means to protect themselves financially.

Should you sign a postnup? You may want to consult with a family law attorney to explore this option.  If you would like to schedule a consultation with an attorney at Nolan Byers, PC, please complete a consultation form available at

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