No one deeply in love thinks their marriage will end up in divorce. Thus, when you get married, you rarely think proactively about things you can do to make dividing the assets easier, let alone protecting your own personal assets.
In fact, you might laughingly dismiss a prenuptial agreement, commonly called a “prenup,” as something rich old men get before marrying their trophy wives. But prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous. They can protect anybody’s assets, and when drafted by a legal professional, they can save time, cost, and a lot of stress for everyone involved.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a written contract made by two people who are about to get married. It establishes the property and financial rights of both parties. Often used to make sure that assets remain in the family in the event of divorce, prenups can also protect family businesses and other personal property, such as real estate, from becoming contested during a divorce case. They can prevent you from getting saddled with the other party’s debt.
If the people getting married have no significant assets or debt when they marry, a prenup is not necessary. That’s because Wisconsin is one of the nine “community property” states in the nation. Any debts or assets that a couple accrue during the marriage are considered “community property” and will be divided equally during the typical divorce settlement.
How Does it Protect My Rights?
When drafted and reviewed properly, a prenup protects any assets you want to remain in your family. It can also protect you from having to assume the burden of someone else’s premarital debt.
Several decades ago, the Uniform PreMarital and Marital Agreements Act (UPAA) attempted to standardize the law so that prenups would be the same, state by state. Wisconsin adopted some of the requirements of this “model law.” In order to be a binding document, a Wisconsin prenup
- Must be in writing and signed by both parties.
- Does not have to be supported by consideration, meaning that input from either party may not affect the agreement.
- Must be drafted “in contemplation” of marriage.
The prenup can’t be “unconscionable,” or particularly unfair to one party. That could make the prenup legally unenforceable. A prenup can also be thrown out if the court discovers that one party coerced the other into signing or did not disclose their premarital assets accurately.
Once written and reviewed by attorneys on both sides, the prenup is legal and binding — with one important catch. You can revise the agreement at any point as long as both spouses agree to the changes.
Let GCW Lawyers Help You
The law offices of Gingras, Cates, and Wachs would be glad to help you determine whether a prenuptial agreement is the right thing to do for you and your family. “We’ll be with you every step of the way” is more than just our saying. It’s the principle we practice by. Contact our compassionate team of family law attorneys today to set up a free consultation.