Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
When a couple in Wisconsin marries, all assets accrued during the marriage become jointly held property. This means that, with the exception of certain assets such as those obtained as gifts or through inheritance, all newly accrued assets belong to both parties equally. When a couple divorces, their assets are divided equally through the doctrine of community property.
Unless the couple explicitly states that this is not to be the case through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. When this happens, the guidelines included in the agreement supercede Wisconsin’s divorce law. The difference between a prenuptial and a postnuptial agreement is when the document is signed – either before or after the couple is married.
What Should I Include in my Pre- or Postnuptial Agreement?
In your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you can include any guidelines related to your assets, debt and finances. Requirements to consider in your agreement include:
- How your assets will be divided in the event of your divorce
- Which assets will be passed to your children, particularly those from previous relationships, in the event of your death
- Each spouse’s right to seek alimony in the event of a divorce, barring situations that would leave an individual without a sufficient amount to cover his or her living expenses
- How your financial affairs will be handled during your marriage
Wisconsin’s laws governing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are based on the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which created the guidelines for many of the state laws governing these agreements across the nation.
Challenging a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
Not all prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are valid. Agreements that contain language that cannot be enforced, such as requirements regarding the number of children a couple will have, cannot be enforced by the court. Agreements that were not signed consensually also cannot be enforced. For example, if one of the parties was coerced into signing a prenuptial agreement or signed it while he or she was under the influence of drugs, the agreement is not valid. Other reasons why a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be deemed invalid include situations where the parties did not fully disclose their debts and assets to each other before signing the agreement, agreements made based on false information, and agreements that the parties did not have sufficient time to read and digest before signing.
When a prenuptial agreement contains requirements that cannot be upheld alongside valid requirements, the court may opt to enforce only the valid requirements.
Work with an Experienced Appleton Family Lawyer
If you are considering signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, discuss your plan with an experienced Appleton family law attorney. Our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, is here to answer your questions and help you create a valid agreement that will protect your assets and interests in the event of a death or divorce. To get started on your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with a family lawyer in Wisconsin, contact our firm to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.