The Wisconsin statute on marital property agreements gives soon-to-be spouses the power to address and determine many of the same issues that could come up in divorce. A prenup gives you more control over the process, instead of being subjected to rigid divorce laws.
Even when you get along and both realize the importance of making arrangements, you still have important rights to protect when considering a marital property agreement. You can rely on Karp & Iancu, S.C. for guidance, whether you seek a prenup or were presented with one. Please contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation with one of our Kenosha prenuptial agreements attorneys. You may also benefit from reviewing a legal synopsis.
Summary of Wisconsin Laws on Prenups
In essence, a marital property agreement is a way to work out in advance certain details that would come up in divorce if you were to go through proceedings in the future. You can include almost any topic that spouses would typically address when dissolving their marriage, subject to some limitations described below. However, there are certain requirements for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable in court:
- The document must be in writing and signed by both parties.
- The marital property agreement is required to be prepared and executed “in contemplation” of marriage, i.e., the parties must be negotiating and signing it with a view to their upcoming wedding.
- Spouses-to-be must provide the other with a comprehensive financial disclosure of all assets, debts, and liabilities they are bringing to the marriage.
Aside from these criteria, there is also the requirement of fairness with a prenuptial agreement. A court will not enforce it if the arrangement is unconscionable or grossly one-sided in favor of one spouse. A prenup is also unenforceable if one spouse pressured, manipulated, made fraudulent statements, or engaged in other misconduct to get the other to sign.
Note that Wisconsin does allow “post-nuptial” agreements that spouses sign after getting married. Many of these same requirements apply.
Benefits for Spouses of All Backgrounds
There is a common misconception that only wealthy parties need a prenup, or that a richer spouse should have one to protect assets from a lower earning spouse. The truth is that marital property agreements carry advantages for both parties. You might consider one if you are getting married a second time or have children from a previous relationship. A prenuptial agreement is also wise for those who own a business, or when spouses recognize a considerable disparity between their respective earning capacity.
Once you recognize who should get a prenuptial agreement, you can see some of the key advantages:
- You have more control over your divorce and can craft an arrangement that suits your reality.
- You can protect assets for the benefit of children from another relationship.
- You gain certainty knowing how your divorce will play out.
- With less animosity over property division and alimony, parents can focus on the needs of children in divorce.
Topics to Include in a Marital Property Agreement
While the benefits of a prenup are certainly attractive and protect both parties, keep in mind that you can only cover certain divorce issues in your agreement. For instance:
In almost all cases, spouses will want to handle property division in a prenup. Wisconsin follows the law of community property for divorce, which would require an equal split of all assets and debts the couple acquired during marriage. You can work out any division that suits your goals in a prenup, as long as it is not unconscionable. Parties can even clarify what items were owned by them before marriage and should not be considered community property.
Spousal support can be a hotly contested topic in divorce, so it is smart to address the details in a prenuptial agreement. You can include specifics on the type, amount, and duration, as well as how it is paid – i.e., in installments or a lump sum. An important provision to discuss is whether alimony is modifiable in the future.
Though one key objective with a marital property agreement is reducing costs, there may be some legal fees associated with carrying out the terms.
Noticeably absent from this list is any reference to custody, visitation, and support for minor children. In Wisconsin, these are subjects you cannot include in a prenup. Child support is a right that belongs to the child and cannot be contracted away; the details are established by statute and related guidelines. Likewise, parents are prohibited from setting out custody and visitation in a prenuptial agreement. These issues are subject to the child’s best interests standard.
Advice and Assistance with Prenups
You may be able to avoid a costly, time-consuming battle in divorce court when you sign a marital property agreement, but you must still contend with the process and legal requirements. Our Kenosha prenuptial agreements lawyers at Karp & Iancu, S.C. will:
- Consult with you to understand goals and needs;
- Draft a prenup that aligns with your objectives;
- Review an agreement presented to you, to ensure protection of your rights; and,
- Assist with enforcement efforts.