Minnesota law provides for a prenuptial agreement, commonly abbreviated as a prenup. A prenup is a contract entered into by people intending to marry prior to the marriage or civil union. These agreements are documents that lay out the terms for a divorce before the marriage occurs. Many people may generally understand what a prenuptial agreement is for, however, they may not know specifically what types of issues they address.
Based upon a 2013 survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there has been a significant increase in the number of prenuptial agreements. This is a sign that the economy is improving and that spouses are becoming more aware of the risk of property loss in a divorce. “As the financial and real estate markets continue to improve, there is a greater awareness of risk to possibly sharing these gains in a divorce,” said Alton Abramowitz, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
One of the most common issues covered in prenuptial agreements is the protection of separate property. While the courts in Minnesota are required to make an equitable division of marital property, an effective prenuptial agreement can identify and preserve assets owned by either spouse prior to the marriage and help avoid any issues of the property losing its’ non marital character. A prenuptial agreement contains language that specifies items that each spouse brings into the marriage and what property that will remain theirs after a split.
The next most common issue that is addressed by prenuptial agreements is spousal support also known as maintenance or alimony. This can be one of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce. By resolving this issue before the relationship deteriorates, the couple can make much more rational decisions that do not incorporate the negative emotions that can dominate a divorce. Other issues that should be addressed by a prenuptial agreements include increases in value of separate property and inheritance rights.
Issues that are not addressed in a prenuptial agreement are the rights of any child of the spouses to child support from either spouse or rights of child custody or parenting time. These issues must be determined at the time of the divorce based upon statutory factors. There are very specific requirements for a prenuptial agreement to be valid. It is important to recognize the necessity of a lawyer to prepare the agreement in a way that complies with the legal requirements and to assure that the document will be valid when and if it is needed.