Learn about prenuptial agreements from award-winning Wisconsin family law attorneys
A prenup is a written financial contract two spouses enter into before their marriage certificate is signed. Learn the details of prenups in Wisconsin below.
Legally reviewed for accuracy by Attorney Kelly Dodd
The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Talk to a lawyer today for legal advice
A “prenup” is a marital property agreement entered into prior to marriage. It defines the parties’ rights and responsibilities with respect to individual and marital property and often modifies or reclassifies those rights versus what they would normally be under the law in the absence of such an agreement.
People in the following situations should consider the benefits of a prenuptial agreement:
The advantages of a prenup include:
The risks of not moving forward with a prenup include:
Prenups require that both parties make a full financial disclosure to be enforceable. They also cannot be purely one-sided. That is, they cannot solely protect one party. They must be fair and equitable to both parties.
Before entering into a prenuptial agreement, both parties should meet with their own separate lawyers (one lawyer cannot represent both parties) to discuss:
Most of the provisions of a prenup that you read about in the news are not viable in Wisconsin. A Wisconsin marital property agreement serves a specific purpose: To define individual and marital property. It does not (and, by law, cannot) dictate how parties behave during the marriage or establish rules for how to create and manage a family, etc.
A prenup will only protect you from liability for your spouse’s debts if the prenup specifically assigns responsibility to the liable spouse and the creditor has actual notice of the provision prior to extending credit to the liable spouse.
You cannot use a prenuptial agreement to avoid creditors by transferring all assets to the non-liable spouse.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two parties to a marriage. It does not affect a creditor’s rights as they are not parties to the contract. A prenup will not prevent one spouse from being garnished or sued for the other party’s debts, however, a prenup may require that the liable spouse must indemnify or reimburse the non-liable spouse.
Contrary to popular belief, prenups protect the livelihood of all parties involved in the event of a divorce. Partner with one of our expert family law attorneys to use as your personal smart estate planning tool.
We'll work together to gather a list of assets and debt acquired separately prior to marriage, alimony, non-monetary contributions, and jointly-owned property.
We'll file a set of specifications to qualify what is and what isn't marital property within your marriage for the county court to approve.
The entire process for drafting and finalizing a prenuptial agreement takes approximately two to three months. The final agreement should be signed at least two weeks before the wedding—to give both parties plenty of time to consider the terms and consequences of the agreement.
The agreement should not be hastily drafted at the last minute or signed the day of the wedding as such circumstances can later be cited as proof the agreement was signed under duress—this could possibly invalidate the agreement.
Short answer: It depends.
Fees for prenups are charged on an hourly basis—that means the ultimate fee is based on the amount of time it takes for your lawyers to negotiate it, prepare it, and finalize it. This will depend on how organized the parties are in presenting their wishes to their attorneys and in providing them with detailed financial information. It will also depend on how well the parties get along during negotiations. It will also depend on the nature of the property being reclassified and whether or not the parties agree on the values of the property.
Short answer: No.
Technically, anyone can draft a prenuptial agreement. There are multiple forms available for download on the internet. However, different states have different rules for what can and cannot be included in prenuptial agreements and different states also have different rules about what makes a prenup enforceable or unenforceable. Therefore, parties should always consult with an attorney to ensure that their ideas can be implemented. To be certain a prenup is enforceable under the law and that it works the way the parties intend, it should be drafted by an attorney.
Short answer: Yes.
A marital property agreement entered into after marriage is a called a “postnup” and follows the same rules for enforceability as prenuptial agreements.
A prenup lasts until its terms are fulfilled—that is, until all property to which it applies is distributed upon death or divorce as defined by the agreement.
Alternatively, a prenup can end upon order of the court if a judge terminates the agreement for any reason.
A prenup can also be terminated by both parties by a subsequent written agreement specifically terminating the prenup.
A prenup can only be “nullified” by court order or by written agreement of the parties.
A prenup cannot be unilaterally cancelled by only one party.
Tearing up a prenuptial agreement does not invalidate it.
Short answer: Not exactly.
Prenups are not “overturned”—however, they can be declared unenforceable.
Usually, a prenup is only declared unenforceable after a hearing or trial. A prenup will be declared unenforceable if:
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