What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Also referred to as a ‘premarital agreement’ or ‘prenup’, a prenuptial agreement is effectively a contract that a couple enters into prior to the start of the marriage. Prenuptial agreements define and clarify certain rights and responsibilities regarding the couple’s property. If a married couple that has a prenup gets divorced, the terms of the agreement will help determine how property, assets, and liabilities are handled. If you do not have a prenup (or other marital agreement) in place, then marital assets will be divided under Wisconsin’s community property laws in a divorce.
Know the Advantages of a Prenuptial Agreement
It is well known that a prenuptial agreement is not the most romantic thing in the world. At the same time, prenups can offer some significant advantages to married couples. If a divorce does occur, a well-drafted prenuptial agreement can help you make the process easier. Some specific advantages of signing a prenup include:
- Define your property rights;
- Limit your personal liability for spousal debts;
- Protect business interests;
- Protect other important property and assets;
- Provide for kids from a prior marriage; and
- Reduce the risk of a drawn-out dispute.
A prenuptial agreement will only provide benefits if it is properly drafted and truly in your best interests. Indeed, a bad prenup will likely leave you worse off than no prenup at all. If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced Madison prenuptial agreement attorney. A lawyer will protect your rights and interests.
An Overview of the Prenuptial Agreement Laws in Wisconsin
Prenuptial agreements are legally enforceable in Wisconsin. That being said, there are certain strict legal criteria that a prenup must satisfy in order to be upheld. Wis. Stat. § 766.58(13)(c) sets outs the basic rules and regulations for marital property agreements. Here are three of the most important things to know about the prenuptial agreement laws in Wisconsin:
- A Prenup Must Be Signed Under the Proper Process: There are basic rules in place for prenups. If the prenup is not agreed to under the proper process, it could be deemed unenforceable. To start, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Our state does not allow for oral (verbal) prenups. Any oral marital agreement is non binding. Further, parties must demonstrate that they make transparent disclosures to each other before signing the prenup and that they were reasonably well-informed of the terms and implications of the agreement.
- A Prenup Cannot Be Wholly Unfair: Wisconsin law is clear: A prenuptial agreement will not be enforced if it's inequitable. State law also holds that courts should voluntarily sign agreements that are reasonably fair to both parties. That being said, a prenuptial agreement that is deemed to be wholly unfair to one party could be rendered unenforceable.
- You Cannot Use a Prenup for Child Custody or Child Support: In Wisconsin, prenups cannot be used to pre-handle issues involving minor children. More specifically, you cannot use a prenup to make determinations for child custody, child visitation, or child support. These matters cannot be addressed in a marital contract. Any terms regarding child custody or child support are unenforceable in Wisconsin. Illegal terms could potentially render an entire prenup invalid.
We Help Clients With All Aspects of Prenups in Madison
As an award-winning family law firm with more than 10,000 cases successfully handled, our Madison attorneys have the skills and experience to handle a broad range of legal matters. We can help you with any questions about prenuptial agreements. Among other things, our Madison prenuptial agreement attorneys are prepared to help clients with:
- Drafting of prenuptial agreements;
- Negotiation of prenuptial agreements;
- Review of a prenuptial agreement;
- Divorce involving a prenuptial agreement; and
- Family litigation of a prenuptial agreement.
What to Know About Postnuptial Agreements
Most marital agreements are signed prior to the start of the marriage. However, that is not legally required in Wisconsin. A couple who is already married still has the right to enter a type of marital agreement called a postnuptial agreement (postnups). Postnups in Wisconsin are subject to many of the same standards as prenups. They can be legally enforceable, but certain strict criteria must be satisfied. If you have any specific questions or concerns about postnups, please do not hesitate to contact our Madison family lawyers for help.
How Our Madison Family Lawyers Can Help With Prenuptial Agreements
Prenups are complicated. At Karp & Iancu, S.C., our family law team is qualified to help clients with all aspects of their prenuptial agreement. Whether you are negotiating an agreement or trying to determine how a prenup will affect your divorce, we are here as a resource. When you contact our Madison law office, you will connect with a Wisconsin family lawyer who can:
- Conduct a comprehensive, confidential review of your case;
- Answer questions and explain your legal rights under Wisconsin law; and
- Take all appropriate steps, including negotiating, drafting, reviewing, and litigating the prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement.