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Could a postnuptial agreement help save your struggling marriage?

As we begin our 8th month under the siege of the coronavirus, I think it is safe to say that some of you are reading this blog post, maybe in marriages that are struggling at the moment. This does not mean that your wedding will continue to work for years and years or even months and months, but the temporary nature of this pandemic may have resulted in struggles for your marriage period; those struggles could be relational, financial, health, or related to other matters. The simple fact is that it would be natural for your marriage to be undergoing some problems right now, given the climate that we are in with the virus.

For instance, has your family undergone some financial disruption in recent months? Towards the beginning of the pandemic, Southeast Texas saw major concerns with health and our economy. Perhaps no region in our country is more dependent upon oil and gas. Think about all of the jobs directly tied to the oil fields, jobs that service those in oil fields, and the oil and gas companies who explore, produce, develop technology, and a host of other jobs associated with this sector. Overall, as new technology allowed us to drill or obtain more oil and gas, the decreased demand put us in a situation where we had nowhere to store all the oil and gas being pumped. The result was a crash in the price of a barrel of oil, and as a result, many jobs were lost.

It wasn't only oil and gas jobs that saw a decrease in number at the pandemic's beginning. We also saw employment and service industries and face-to-face contact with the public more essentially forbidden by the government for a long time. Either those jobs may have never come back, or you or your spouse may have had jobs moved or changed due to the pandemic. The loss or diminution of income for you or your spouse has a direct relationship with the structure and stability of your marriage as well as on your overall happiness. Try limiting stress during a pandemic when you are not financially secure and ask yourself to achieve a challenging goal.

This does not even get into how the health consequences of the virus may have impacted your marriage. As we saw it, cases increased in the Houston area during the summer months; you or your spouse, unfortunately, caught the virus and became ill. While it is statistically rare for a person to have gotten very ill from the coronavirus, it is possible that you may have been one of these exceptions who did get sick and may have even had to have been hospitalized. We hope that you have recovered fully and are back on the road to total health.

However, the concerns that you may have regarding your ongoing health, as well as your ability to receive medical care and then pay for that medical care, may have also contributed to preexisting weaknesses in your marriage period; on top of that, if you and your spouse have not been able to communicate these problems with one another we have an entirely new set of the issues that your marriage may be facing as a result of the coronavirus. Generally speaking, I have picked up on the increase in the number of divorce filings due to the virus, the pandemic status of our nation, and the government-mandated shutdowns of the economy.

Overall, I think it is a situation where most people are on edge due to the pandemic and the reasonably strict public health measures that have been implemented to respond to it. People debate the efficacy of masks with regularity in our area and across the nation and world, but I don't think there's any doubt that seeing a person wear a mask is unsettling for most of us. These subtle and momentary bits of interaction with measures intended to prevent transmission of the virus can ingrain themselves into our psyche and add to the unease that people experience due to the pandemic.

So, we have an environment where you and your spouse are constantly inundated with negative information, have concerns over your health, possibly have concerns about finances, and are just generally in negative moods. Couple that with the fact that we are now on our 8th month of the pandemic, and we have a potential recipe for disaster in your marriage.

What can be done to turn the time and improve the quality of your marriage?

I'm going to stop at this point and tell you that there are many ways for you to improve your marriage that do not involve a post-nuptial agreement. I will be foolish to say that the most effective way to enhance your wedding would be to obtain a postnuptial understanding. Yes, we are still going to write about that topic today in our blog, and we're still going to advocate for you to consider whether or not a post-nuptial agreement is in your family's best interest. However, I would suggest communication with your spouse about the concerns and then taking concrete steps to improve fault lines in your marriage as the most effective way to improve the quality of your relationship.

This means speaking directly to your spouse about your problems using direct and open lines of communication. If you and your spouse have not engaged in a conversation like this for a long time, or possibly ever, you need to be wise and prudent about the language you use. If this doesn't sound like your strong suit, you will probably be best suited to utilize the services of a marriage or family therapist to help guide you through this process. The conversations do not need to be on a high level academically, but they do need to be honest and dig down into the routine for problems.

If you have any hesitancy or concerns over the virus or a particular area of your marriage, that needs to be the focus of your discussion. From someone who has helped people sort through their marriages and get through divorces, I can tell you that intentionally getting into these challenging subjects and then developing a specific plan for improving aspects of a marriage that may be struggling is the best route you can take. Do not simply identify problems in your marriage but instead develop plans with your spouse for both of you to problem solve your way through those issue spots.

I think it is normal for us to feel like physical and emotional disconnect from people in our lives right now. Given the social distancing, mask-wearing, and just general concern over a person-to-person contact, we can feel like we are separated from one another now more than ever. We need only watch TV for 10 minutes to see advertisements imploring us to feel togetherness and that we are battling the virus as a team. However, it is difficult to feel this way and when we are told that this is precisely what the virus needs to increase and get worse. While it may be OK to be separated from relatives, friends, and other people, we cannot afford to be separated from our spouses during this time.

Postnuptial agreements as a means to improve your struggling marriage

Now that we have discussed the topic of how to improve your marriage on a communication level, we can now get into how a post-nuptial agreement may be able to improve or save your floundering marriage. Essentially, my argument is that you can communicate your way through rough spots in your wedding and that a post-nuptial agreement is a natural byproduct of that communication. We will spend the remaining portion of today's blog post on that topic.

A post-nuptial agreement is a preparation for a divorce before you begin a divorce proceeding. Post-nuptial agreements primarily deal in financial matters and consider nothing about your children. How community property will be divided, spousal support considerations, determining what is and what is not separate property belonging to either you or your spouse in subjects like this are all dealt with within a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

If you have any concerns over what would happen to you financially in the event of a divorce, or even if your spouse were to pass away, then this post-nuptial agreement may be the security blanket that you are looking for. Essentially, drafting a post-marital agreement allows you and your spouse to sort through your divorce issues before getting involved in a divorce case. While you may be asking yourself why you would want to relive a divorce twice, I'm telling you that a postnuptial agreement allows you to shift the property division portion of your divorce to a time when you and your spouse are not actively involved in the case. This offers several advantages.

The most significant of those advantages is that you are not forced to negotiate the property division of your marital estate with the person with whom you are not on the best terms. Consider that when you are involved in a divorce, you are stressed to the Max, likely very upset with your spouse, and worried about what will happen with your future and your children's features. Take note at this point that it sounds a lot like what many of us have been going through with this coronavirus. By answering any questions you may have regarding property and asset division in divorce, you can get a clearer understanding of what your family's financial picture looks like now and into the future.

For many of us, this has been a primary concern of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of us have taken our foot off the pedal or the road regarding finances and have shifted that area of our lives to autopilot or cruise control. If you believe this describes you and your spouse, then negotiating through a post-nuptial agreement may allow you all a window into how to get a better handle on your finances. Doing so during your marriage rather than during an ongoing divorce may allow you to identify potential problems that are lurking in avoiding having to get a divorce at all.

I tell people about a post-nuptial agreement that signing a marital agreement does not guarantee your immediate divorce. Likewise, drafting a will does not mean signing up to pass away the following day. Like a will, a postnuptial agreement can be responsible for an adult to do who is involved in a marriage. Answering these questions about finances and property division now can help you identify problems in your marriage and solve them rather than wonder how they will be dealt with in a divorce. Do not presume that your marriage is headed for divorce until you take control of your wedding. A post-nuptial agreement is an effective tool for identifying problems, solving them, and allowing for more significant growth in your relationship.

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