In Minnesota, prenuptial agreements, also known as antenuptial agreements, may be entered into between couples planning to get married. Prenuptial agreements can be used to protect your rights to property and other assets in a divorce. Prenuptial agreements are sometimes used as estate planning tools as well.
If you are thinking about signing a prenuptial agreement in Minnesota, it is important to understand the contractual process and to know what to expect should the agreement be enforced. Attorneys at Perusse Nixon have experience in creating marital agreements that work for your goals and intentions. They know that being knowledgeable about the process is critical to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is valid, enforceable, and will not leave you with any surprises.
Prenuptial Agreement Process
The prenuptial agreement process in Minnesota may seem straight forward on its face:
- You and your partner disclose all of your current debts and assets.
- You draft an agreement that directs how your debts and assets will be divided.
- You both sign the document in front of a notary and witnesses before you are married.
Unfortunately, even though the process seems straight forward, many legal issues and requirements must be acknowledged and complied with before a prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable upon divorce in Minnesota.
Attorney Requirements For Prenuptial Agreements
You are not required to hire an attorney, but it is required that you both at least have the opportunity to consult with an attorney. For example, suppose your fiancé presented you with a prenuptial agreement two days before the wedding, and you signed the document. Upon divorce, the agreement may not be enforceable because two days did not give you adequate time and opportunity to consult with an attorney.
Even though you can elect not to meet with an attorney, we advise everyone to consult with a lawyer as the first step in the prenuptial agreement process. A marital agreement attorney will make sure that you understand everything in the contract and how it will impact you in the future if you and your spouse divorce.
Debt And Asset Disclosure
All of your debts and assets must be disclosed before executing the marital agreement. Credit card balances, school loans, automobile loans, bank accounts, investments, real estate, and any other debts and assets are required to be shared between parties to the agreement. If a court later determines that one or both of you failed to make required disclosures, the contract might be declared invalid.
Under Minnesota law, prenuptial agreements must comply with the following requirements:
- The contract is in writing
- Signed by both parties before marriage
- Witnessed by two people
Prenuptial agreements serve many purposes. Terms may set forth property, bank accounts, and additional assets owned separately by the parties before marriage that they do not want to become part of the marital estate. Other terms may address family assets, businesses, and the income of either or both spouses. Spousal support arrangements can also be included in prenuptial agreements.
Invalid And Unenforceable Prenuptial Agreements
In addition to the requirement that both parties have the opportunity to meet with an attorney before signing the contract, other circumstances can make your prenuptial agreement or specific terms in the agreement unenforceable. For example, the agreement must be entered into voluntarily by each party. Prenuptial agreements might be challenged in court if one party was coerced or faced undue pressure to sign the contract.
Agreement terms related to child custody or child support are not valid under Minnesota law. Child custody and support matters are determined based on the child’s best interests, not on their parents’ decisions made before marriage. The court will not enforce support and custody terms, but other terms in the agreement may still be enforceable.
Unfair To One Party
Prenuptial agreements do not guarantee that a divorce will be quick and simple. The law requires that the terms of the agreements be “fair” both at the time it was executed and at the time of a divorce. There are many ways someone might claim years later that the prenuptial should not be enforced.
For example, suppose both partners had full-time jobs before they were married, and the agreement stated that neither spouse would pay or collect alimony from the other. If one spouse later stopped working to stay home with the couple’s children, a judge may decide that failing to provide alimony to that spouse is unfair.
Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
Prenuptial agreements can be useful to protect your financial security and well-being, but only when the terms are valid and enforceable. Minnesota prenuptial agreement attorneys at Perusse Nixon handle all types of family law matters, including marital agreements. Contact us at 612-564-2075 or submit an online form to schedule a consultation.