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Stay-at-home parents may want a postnup

A postnuptial agreement, signed after your wedding day, is similar to a prenuptial agreement. It sets aside certain assets and/or addresses pressing property division questions. If you decide to get divorced, you already have that agreement in place.

The need for a prenup is clear: If you worry about divorce, you want to protect yourself financially in advance. It's your way of saying that you want to get married, but you understand that doing so puts you into a legal contract with someone else. You want some way to spell out the terms of that contract to protect your own assets if the marriage doesn't work out.

But why would a couple use a postnuptial agreement? They're already married. Why address a potential divorce? If they're not ready to get divorced -- or else they would just do it -- why even consider what would happen?

There are numerous reasons. For this example, let's take a look at one: the stay-at-home parent.

Life changes

When you got married, you had a career. Your spouse had a career. It was a classic dual-income, no kids scenario. You always felt like you had plenty of money to go around.

When you had kids, though, you decided that one of you needed to stay home with them. The idea of daycare made you very nervous. You did not want to go that route.

You decided to end your career to raise the children. You gave up what you had worked for. You knew it would be impossible to just pick up where you left off later, but you wanted what was best for your kids.

Peace of mind

For you, a postnup could be peace of mind. You don't want to get divorced. However, you are only quitting your job to raise the children because you expect your spouse to support you. If they ask you for a divorce, it's too late to backtrack on your decision. Starting your career back up may prove impossible. Even if you can, you have lost years of experience, promotions, connections and pay.

In this sense, the postnup isn't even about protecting your assets. You're not trying to keep anything from your spouse. You just want to make sure that you have financial security before you make such a big change in your life. You want to know that no one else -- your spouse -- can make a decision that is going to take that away from you.

Your options

Are you thinking about using a postnup, using a prenup or getting divorced? No matter where you are in this process, it is very important to know all of the options that you have in Illinois.

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