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Woman must pay ex-husband's debt, despite prenuptial agreement

Prenuptial agreements can be very important to Minnesota residents when they go through a divorce, but they cannot do everything. A recent news report told the story of a woman who says her wages were garnished because a debt owed by her ex-husband, even though the two had a prenuptial agreement and divorce settlement that should have made their finances wholly separate.

The woman had a child from a previous relationship and a home that she wanted to protect in case anything went wrong with the marriage, so she and her husband signed a prenuptial agreement before their wedding. When the couple divorced a few years later, in 2011, the prenuptial agreement had predetermined the division of assets and other important matters. Accordingly, the woman said she thought that she had no more financial connection to her ex-husband.

Sometime after the divorce, however, the woman said she received a call from a debt collector who was trying to get her to pay $2,000 that her ex-husband owed. Later, she got a notice from a court that her wages were being garnished in order to pay off the debt.

The woman does not live in Minnesota, and Minnesota's laws may have led to a different result. Even so, the story illustrates an important point, prenuptial agreements are enforceable contracts between the two parties that sign them. But, they are not binding upon parties who did not sign the agreement. Thus, one way for the woman to get out of the $2,000 debt would be for her to pay it and then sue her ex-husband to reimburse her.

There are many factors to consider when putting together a prenuptial agreement. Many Minnesota residents who are about to get married do not want to think about the potential end to the relationship, and so either avoid making a prenuptial agreement or do not spend much time on it. However, it can be very important for them to be well-informed about these agreements before they sign them so that they know what prenuptial agreements can and cannot accomplish.

Source: AZFamily.com, "Woman forced to pay ex-husband's debt," LiAna Gonzales, July 30, 2013

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