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Should I Sign a Prenuptial Agreement Before My Wedding?

Posted on in Family Law

Milwaukee family law firm, prenuptial agreement, premarital agreement, legal separation, divorceGetting married can be a complicated, overwhelming process. As couples plan their wedding, they have several requirements that must must be met. Along with finalizing the guest list, putting down a deposit on the venue, and hiring a photographer, one item that appears on more and more wedding checklists is “Sign the prenup.”

Planning for a divorce before a wedding takes place may seem to be in poor taste, but the fact remains that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Therefore, you may want to ensure you are protected in the event your relationship breaks down in the future. However, before you sign a prenuptial agreement, make sure that the agreement fits your needs.

When a Prenuptial Agreement is a Good Idea

A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement) is a legal contract between couples that specifies what will happen when their marriage ends—whether because of divorce, legal separation, or the death of a spouse.

By determining how issues will be resolved ahead of time, a prenup can help avoid lengthy and costly legal disputes, and it can be a good idea in the following situations:

  • Either spouse has significant debt. An agreement can specify which spouse will be responsible for this debt if the marriage breaks down.
  • One spouse earns a higher income or has more financial resources than the other. A prenup can detail whether a lower earning spouse will be entitled to spousal maintenance after divorce.
  • Either spouse has children from a previous relationship. A premarital agreement can ensure that a spouse will have the financial resources necessary to care for their children if the marriage ends.
  • Either spouse has ownership interest in a business. A prenuptial agreement can detail how ownership and control of the business will be handled in the case of a divorce. 

Legal Requirements for a Premarital Agreement

In Wisconsin, a prenuptial agreement is known as a marital property agreement, and it can be entered into either before or after marriage. However, if the following requirements are not met, a premarital agreement may not be enforceable:

  • Voluntariness - A spouse must not be manipulated, pressured, or deceived into signing an agreement.
  • Financial disclosure - Spouses must fairly and reasonably disclose their property and financial obligations to each other before signing an agreement.
  • Fairness - An agreement may be invalidated if it is “unconscionable,” or grossly unfair to one spouse. 

What a Prenup Cannot Cover

While a prenup can specify how assets and debts will be divided and whether one spouse will pay spousal support to the other, it cannot make decisions about child support or child custody. Children have the right to financial support from both parents, so parents cannot override these rights in an agreement. Likewise, child custody is decided by the court based on what is in the best interest of the child, and parents cannot make an agreement about these matters in advance.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI, Family Law Attorney

If you are planning to get married and want to ensure that you will have financial protection if your relationship ever ends, the experienced, compassionate attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you create an agreement that protects both spouses and gives you peace of mind about your future. Contact our Milwaukee family law firm today at 414-271-1440.



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