A prenuptial agreement is a highly effective way to protect property, assets, and businesses prior to entering into marriage. While most people do not plan to end up divorced, divorce can happen, and protecting yourself ahead of time can prove incredibly beneficial.
Understanding your prenuptial agreement, however, can prove essential to ensuring that you are able to navigate divorce successfully and maintain as many of your assets as possible.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract, signed prior to marriage, that helps protect one or both spouses’ assets in the case of divorce. Generally, prenuptial agreements include terms that protect specific assets owned by one spouse prior to marriage or protect the income from a business owned by one partner before the marriage.
Prenuptial agreements may also clearly lay out what the other spouse can expect in terms of spousal support. A prenuptial agreement may specify, for example, that the lower-earning spouse can only expect a certain amount of spousal support regardless of the quality of life or income during the marriage.
In addition, a prenuptial agreement may lay out debt division after divorce, especially if one spouse enters into the marriage with a great deal more debt than the other. Sometimes, determining debt distribution can prove just as problematic as deciding how to handle asset division after a marriage.
What Makes Minnesota Prenuptial Agreements Different?
Prenuptial agreements in Minnesota are unique. In most states, the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, also called UPAA, allows for the person for whom the prenup is created to choose which state’s marriage laws apply when it comes to things like division of property or spousal support. Minnesota, on the other hand, requires that prenuptial agreements comply with Minnesota statutes.
According to Minnesota law, in order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must follow several essential attributes.
- Both spouses must enter into the agreement willingly.
- The agreement must be issued in writing
- The agreement must be signed in the presence of two witnesses.
- The prenuptial agreement must be made before the two parties enter into marriage.
Minnesota law also allows each spouse time to seek legal counsel before entering into a prenuptial agreement. Before signing, you need a solid understanding of how the terms of the prenup may impact you in the future, particularly as it pertains to your finances during a divorce. If you did not have adequate opportunity to pursue legal counsel or make an informed decision, your prenup might not be valid.
Entering into an agreement after marriage is considered a postnuptial agreement, which may have its own set of rules.
Invalid Prenuptial Agreements
While a prenuptial agreement offers useful protection for a higher-earning spouse during a divorce, it’s important to make sure that a prenuptial agreement is laid out legally, and that you don’t miss any essential details in putting it together.
There are several circumstances that can invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
#1. One Party Was Coerced or Pressured
In order for a prenuptial agreement to be legally binding, you will need to establish that both parties went into it willingly and that they had the opportunity to consult a lawyer and determine whether the agreement was in their best interests.
If one party is pressured into signing a prenuptial agreement that does not fairly provide for that spouse in the event of a divorce, that party may try to invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
For example, if one spouse springs the prenuptial agreement on the other within days of the marriage, leaving that spouse feeling as though they have no choice but to sign in order to avoid embarrassment, the agreement might not be valid.
#2. The Agreement Is Unfair
In Minnesota, prenuptial agreements must be fair both at the time the spouses entered into the agreement and at the time of divorce. Circumstances can change considerably between the initial time of the marriage and the time of the divorce.
If circumstances change in a way that makes the agreement very unfair to one spouse, the judge who oversees the divorce may choose to invalidate the prenuptial agreement.
#3. The Prenup Includes Information About Child Support or Child Custody
Child support and child custody are usually determined at the time of divorce based on the needs of both parents and the needs of the child, as of the way they stand at that time. At the time of marriage, the spouses may not know how many children they will have or what those children’s needs will look like at the time of divorce. Furthermore, in some cases, the child’s desires regarding custody may be taken into consideration during the divorce process.
A prenuptial agreement that includes clauses for child support or child custody, particularly a prenup that awards custody to one parent regardless of circumstance or that will not require one parent to pay child support regardless of circumstances, will be invalidated.
#4. The Marriage Is Invalid
In cases where the marriage is invalid, particularly if the marriage is annulled, the prenuptial agreement may not come into play. A prenuptial agreement assumes that the parties involved will be legally married, generally shortly after entering into the prenuptial agreement.
In some cases, including a case in which one partner is already married to someone else, one partner is too young to get married, or one partner is coerced into marriage, the prenuptial agreement may be invalidated.
Contact a Minnesota Prenuptial Agreement Attorney for Help
Minnesota prenuptial agreements are often complex and difficult to navigate. Having an attorney go over the terms of the agreement can provide you with a better understanding of how those terms might impact you, both now and in the future.
Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement attorney can help determine whether your prenup is valid and how it could change your divorce.
If you’re trying to navigate your Minnesota prenuptial agreement, whether you need to put together a prenup prior to marriage or you’re trying to determine how your prenup might impact your divorce, contact a Minnesota prenuptial agreement attorney as soon as possible.