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Should postnuptial agreements compensate stay-at-home parents?

Many modern parents prefer to split child-raising responsibilities. With the help of technology, options like telecommuting or adopting an alternative work schedule can help parents work around daycare or school schedules.

However, some families choose to have one spouse become a stay-at-home parent. A recent article suggests that, before leaving a lucrative career, a spouse considering this sacrifice take certain precautionary steps.

A postnuptial agreement is a contractual safeguard that married couples can execute under California law. Such an agreement might assign a financial value to the spouse’s child-raising duties, perhaps at the salary level he or she had before becoming a stay-at-home parent. Like a prenuptial agreement, the postnuptial agreement could also clarify how any joint assets would be divided and how spousal support might be calculated, in the event of a divorce.

Although such money matters may sound unromantic, the discussion might actually invigorate the fire in a marriage. At a minimum, it will get both spouses thinking about all of the contributions that are required to keep a family going.  

A family law attorney that handles divorces will likely have a great deal of insight to offer couples considering either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Under California law, the process of dividing assets under the state’s community property laws can be confusing. There’s no guarantee of a 50-50 split, as a variety of factors can influence a court’s determination of what is equitable under the circumstances. Questions may also arise as to whether assets are separate or part of the marital estate. Martial agreements can anticipate such questions and provide clear evidence of a couple’s intentions.

Source: CNBC, “Why stay-at-home moms need a 'postnup',” Jeff Landers, Dec. 21, 2013

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