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How to bring up a postnup without wrecking your marriage

Bringing up a postnuptial agreement can be a delicate matter.

Oftentimes the spouse who has the most at stake financially in a marriage is the one who initiates the postnup. However, in many cases the less-empowered spouse is the one who really needs the security of knowing where he or she will stand financially if the marriage fails.

Unfortunately, that reasoning usually goes out the window. The spouse hears "postnup" and automatically thinks divorce.

Here are a few ways to bring up a postnup without setting off fireworks:

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  • Make it a "we" discussion, not a "me" discussion: Although your financial stakes may differ, your emotional stakes in your marriage should be the same. It may be a hard conversation for both of you, but if a postnup can release anxiety and uncertainty from your marriage, it's well worth it.

  • Use the circumstances: A huge bonus, new job, new lifestyle or an inheritance can be the perfect opportunity to broach the idea of a marital agreement.

  • Use your prenup: If you signed a prenup, suggest that the two of you review it together to see if it still seems fair and reasonable to both of you.

  • Group it with other necessary work: Making out a will or engaging in estate or financial planning can segue nicely into a postnuptial discussion.

  • Bring up the invested parties: Do it for the kids or the family business, anyone who could potentially be treated unfairly by the dissolution of your marriage.

  • Have your attorney or family planner bring it up: A neutral third party adviser can often take some of the suspicion and emotion out of a postnup discussion.

Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Mississippi.

-- Updated: May 15, 2003

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See Also
Financial survival guide to divorce

Quiz: love and money

Financial advice glossary
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