Even under otherwise favorable circumstances, financial challenges can put a strain on a marriage. If your spouse also has bipolar disorder, it can complicate the matter even further. Your spouse may deplete the family finances by going on spending sprees as a symptom of the poor decision-making that often characterizes a manic episode.

A marriage can fracture under this type of strain, leading to a divorce. However, if you are not yet ready to take that step, you can nevertheless prepare for the possibility with a postnuptial agreement. In the event that you do eventually decide to file for a divorce, a postnuptial agreement provides you legal protection for your finances from your spouse’s mania-induced spending.

What is a postnuptial agreement?

You may not have ever heard of a postnuptial agreement before. They are a relatively new type of legal tool. It was only with the rise of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s that postnuptial agreements became enforceable. From a legal point of view, however, the only substantial difference between a postnuptial agreement and a prenuptial agreement is that you enter into the latter before the wedding, and the other takes place afterward.

What does a postnup do?

Like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement sets guidelines relating to spousal support and division of property, not only after divorce finalization but during the negotiation process. In your specific situation, your postnuptial agreement can arrange for the termination of any accounts that you hold jointly with your spouse, including credit card accounts, and indemnify you from liability for any debts your spouse incurs during a manic spending episode if you should decide to divorce.

How should you approach the topic with your spouse?

If you wish to enter a postnuptial agreement, you should be transparent in discussing it with your spouse. You may have to explain the concept and how it relates to the concerns that you have about your spouse’s manic behavior. Even after the discussion, however, your spouse may not be amenable to the idea. If that is the case, the only way to protect both your emotional and financial well-being may be to commence divorce proceedings.

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