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Prenup Vs Postnup: What’s the Difference Between A Prenup And Postnup in Missouri?

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Are you worried about what can happen if you get divorced but afraid to bring up signing a prenup? You have two options: 1) hope for the best or 2) have an open discussion about what’s important to you.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be powerful tools when it comes to protecting your assets if you ever get divorced — but they also provide the peace of mind that both you and your spouse are entering the marriage on equal terms. If you have more assets than your spouse, would you want to give up half if things didn’t work out?

As a family law attorney, I’ve been dealing with divorce, child custody, and everything in between for a long time now. I’ve seen firsthand how these agreements can provide peace of mind and clarity for couples in Missouri.

What Is A Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” is a legally binding contract signed by a couple before marriage. It outlines how assets will be divided in case of divorce. Contrary to popular belief, prenups aren’t just for the rich and famous. They can benefit couples of all backgrounds who want to protect their individual property and financial interests.

Here’s A Real-Life Example of Why You Might Want A Prenup

Sarah and Mark plan on getting married. Sarah is an entrepreneur with a successful business. Mark is a school teacher with a lot of student loan debt. In order to protect her business and ensure a fair division of assets if they ever divorce in the future, Sarah and Mark will sign a prenup before tying the knot. This helps her protect the assets she came into the marriage with.

Missouri’s Prenuptial Agreement Law

Unlike most states, Missouri does not follow the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which has governed prenups since 1986.

Instead, Missouri courts have established a two-pronged test to determine how a prenuptial agreement can be enforced.

Rule #1: Both parties must voluntarily enter into the agreement, free from any form of duress, coercion, or undue influence. The parties must engage in the process fairly, with a clear understanding of the terms and implications of the agreement. Good faith and complete transparency regarding all relevant information are essential components of this requirement.

Rule #2: The concept of conscionability. This means that the terms of the prenuptial agreement must be fundamentally fair and balanced. The agreement should not be so lopsided or oppressive that it leaves one party at a severe disadvantage or undermines basic principles of equity. Missouri courts will carefully examine the provisions of the agreement to ensure that they do not cross the threshold of unconscionability.

Should I Get A Prenup?

Picture this: You’re head over heels in love, eagerly planning your dream wedding, and looking forward to a lifetime of happiness with your partner. Amidst the excitement, have you paused to consider how a prenuptial agreement might fit into your fairy tale?

Before you dismiss the idea as unromantic or unnecessary, hear me out. As a family law attorney, I’ve witnessed countless couples who wished they had taken the time to explore the benefits of a prenup.

It’s not about planning for divorce; it’s about having an open and honest conversation about your financial future together.

So, who should consider a prenup?

If any of the following resonate with you, it might be worth exploring further:

  1. You’ve worked hard to build a successful business or accumulate significant assets. A prenup can help protect what you’ve earned and ensure that your hard work remains valued.
  2. You’re entering the marriage with substantial debts. By addressing debt responsibility upfront, you can avoid potential conflicts down the road.
  3. You want to safeguard your inheritance rights or those of your children from a previous relationship. A prenup can help you maintain control over how your legacy is passed on.
  4. You and your partner have different financial philosophies or backgrounds. Clarifying your financial roles and responsibilities can foster a stronger, more transparent partnership.
  5. You’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges of divorce and want to minimize potential disputes. While no one enters a marriage anticipating its end, having a clear plan in place can provide peace of mind.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue a prenup is deeply personal. It requires vulnerability, open communication, and a shared commitment to building a strong foundation for your marriage. By approaching the topic with love, respect, and understanding, you and your partner can make an informed choice that aligns with your unique needs and values.

Remember, a prenup is not a symbol of mistrust or doubt in your relationship. Instead, it’s an opportunity to have an authentic dialogue about your hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future. So, as you embark on this exciting chapter of your lives, take a moment to consider whether saying “I do” to a prenup might be the ultimate act of love and commitment.

5 Steps to Take Before Signing a Prenup

  1. Have an open discussion with your partner. Sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about your financial goals, concerns, and expectations. Discuss why you believe a prenup is necessary and listen to their perspective. Aim to find common ground and approach the process as a team.
  2. Hire separate attorneys. Each party should retain their own attorney who specializes in family law. Having separate legal representation ensures that both of your interests are protected and that the agreement is fair and legally sound. Your attorneys can guide you through the process and help you understand the implications of each provision.
  3. Fully disclose financial information. Both parties must provide complete and accurate financial disclosure, including assets, debts, income, and any other relevant information. Hiding assets or providing false information can invalidate the
    prenup. Your attorneys will help you gather and exchange the necessary documentation.
  4. Ensure fairness. A prenup should be fair and equitable to both parties. It should not heavily favor one partner over the other or leave one party financially vulnerable. Your attorneys will review the agreement to ensure that it meets the standards of fairness and conscionability required by law.
  5. Sign well before the wedding. To avoid any appearance of duress or coercion, it’s crucial to finalize and sign the prenup well in advance of your wedding day. Aim to have the agreement completed at least 30-60 days before the ceremony. This allows sufficient time for review, revisions, and legal formalities.

Limitations of Prenups in Missouri

While prenups can cover many aspects of a couple’s financial life, there are limitations:

  • Cannot predetermine child support or custody
  • Cannot include anything illegal or against public policy
  • Cannot alter spousal duties
  • Agreements promoting divorce may not be enforceable

What Could Invalidate a Missouri Prenup

A prenup may be invalidated if:

  • Signed under duress, fraud, or without mental capacity
  • Lack of independent legal representation
  • Incomplete financial disclosure
  • Unconscionable terms

Will A Prenup Hold Up In Court?

A well-drafted prenup that meets legal requirements and is fair to both parties is likely to be upheld in court. However, agreements that heavily favor one spouse or were signed under questionable circumstances may not be enforced.

Attorney Insight: Sophya Qureshi Raza

“In my experience, prenups are more likely to stand up in court when both parties have their own attorneys, and there’s full financial disclosure. It’s crucial to ensure the agreement is fair and doesn’t leave one spouse at a severe disadvantage.”

Is A Prenup Valid After 10 Years In Missouri?

There’s no specific time limit on the validity of a prenup in Missouri. As long as the agreement met legal requirements at the time of signing and enforcement, it can remain valid indefinitely. However, significant changes in circumstances may warrant updating the agreement.

What Happens If You Sign A Prenup And Get Divorced?

If you have a valid prenup, its terms will govern how your assets are divided in divorce. This can streamline the process and minimize disputes. If the prenup is found invalid or unconscionable, the court may distribute assets according to Missouri’s equitable distribution laws.

Can You Get A Prenup After Marriage?

No, a prenup must be entered into before marriage. However, married couples can create a similar agreement called a postnuptial agreement or “postnup.”

What Is A Postnup?

A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract signed by a married couple that outlines how assets will be divided in case of divorce or death. Postnups can address changes in financial circumstances during the marriage.

Difference Between Prenup vs. Postnup

Prenup Postnup
Signed before marriage Signed after marriage

Spoiler Alert! The only difference between a prenup and a postnup in Missouri is when the documents are signed. Both provide the same level of protection — assuming they were done right in the first place.

Are Postnups Enforceable In Missouri?

Postnuptial agreements are generally enforceable in Missouri if they meet the same legal requirements as prenups. However, they may face higher standards of fairness since they are entered into after marriage.

Is It Better To Get A Prenup Or Postnup?

In most cases, a prenup is preferable because it establishes clear expectations before marriage. Postnups can be useful for addressing changes during the marriage but may face more legal challenges. The best option depends on your unique situation and goals.

How to Keep Assets Separate Without a Prenup

If you choose not to get a prenup, you can still maintain separate assets by:

  1. Keeping detailed records of separate property
  2. Avoiding commingling of funds
  3. Using separate bank accounts
  4. Maintaining individual titles and deeds
  5. Considering a revocable living trust


Can a prenup protect future earnings?

Yes, a prenup can address how future income and assets acquired during the marriage will be treated in the event of a divorce.

How long before the wedding should a prenup be signed?

It’s best to sign a prenup at least 30-90 days before the wedding to avoid any appearance of duress or coercion.

Can a prenup be modified after marriage?

Yes, a prenup can be amended or revoked after marriage if both parties agree in writing. This is typically done through a postnuptial agreement.

Final Thoughts

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are valuable tools for couples seeking to protect their assets and ensure a fair division of property in case of divorce. By understanding the legal requirements, benefits, and limitations of these agreements, you can make informed decisions about your financial future.

If you’re considering a prenup or postnup, it’s essential to have open and honest communication with your partner and seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney.

With proper planning and professional support, you can create an agreement that provides peace of mind and security for years to come.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific guidance on prenups and postnups in Missouri, consult with a qualified family law attorney.


prenup vs postnup

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