Three things to know about postnuptial agreements in Minnesota

Postnuptial agreements are generally valid in Minnesota if three criteria are met.

The use of postnuptial agreements is on the rise. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal discussed the use of these contracts, noting the agreements are becoming more widely used among wealthy couples to outline how marital assets would be divided in the event of a divorce, similar to their prenuptial counterparts. However, in contrast to prenup agreements, postnuptial agreements are made after the couple is already married.

Various reasons are cited for using a postnuptial agreement, but one of the more common reasons is an effort by one partner to show commitment to a fractured marriage. Two examples given in The Wall Street Journal piece were marriages involving infidelity or a spouse accumulating debt without his or her partner’s knowledge. These agreements can help outline who will be responsible for the debt or how assets would be split if an attempt at reconciliation fails.

Each state imposes different requirements on these documents in order for the contract to be valid. As a result, those who are considering a postnuptial agreement are wise to have a basic understanding of applicable state law.

Postnuptial agreements and Minnesota law: Three tips

Minnesota state law defines postnuptial agreements as a contract made between spouses who are legally married. These agreements are generally supported by state law if the following criteria are met:

  • Disclosure. In order to survive any potential challenge at a later date, the parties entering the postnuptial agreement must provide "full and fair disclosure of the earnings and property of each party."
  • Counsel. Each party must also have the opportunity to consult with legal counsel. An attorney can review the details of the agreement and help to ensure that both parties have a better understanding of the consequences of the provisions contained within the agreement. This requirement is designed to better ensure that both parties are fully aware of the impact of the document. A postnuptial agreement put together without each party having their own counsel is generally not enforced.
  • Fairness. State law also requires that the document be fair. Any document that overly favors one party over the other may not survive if challenged.

It is important to note that these documents cannot control the rights that impact any children present in the marriage. Examples could include provisions addressing child support, child custody or parenting time issues. The law also notes that any agreement signed within two years of a divorce filing is suspect. In these situations, the burden of establishing that the document is fair and equitable is placed upon the party filing for divorce. Unless this can be established, the document will not be enforced.

These documents can provide a number of benefits. In addition to helping establish the division of marital property in the event of a divorce, they can also be used to update or change a preexisting prenuptial agreement, also referred to as antenuptial agreements by state law.