Attorney Todd Dwire speaking with staff member in conference room

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Prenups: Either couple decides how to divide, or the state does

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2013 | Firm News |

When a married couple divorces in Minnesota, a court requires them to divide their assets in a way that meets the state’s guidelines of fairness. This often means the couple just split their marital property 50-50 and go their separate ways, but it could mean one ex-spouse must pay the other alimony, or that neither one of the exes gets to keep the house. It could mean a lot of things that are considered fair under state law but feel unfair to the people involved.

Many couples feel signing a prenuptial agreement is unromantic, and they’re probably right. No one likes to think about how things could end when they are in the middle of planning a wedding and a new life together. However, the point of prenuptial agreements is to allow the parties to decide on the division of their assets, rather than leaving that decision up to the state.

Prenuptial agreements allow the parties to agree in advance that certain property is separate from the marital property. This could be important upon divorce, when one of the parties wants to hold on to a piece of property with a strong sentimental value. And it could be crucial when one spouse owns a business which could be destroyed if the court forces it to be split down the middle.

To be enforceable in Minnesota, prenuptial agreements must be written and properly executed, each party must have fully disclosed all assets and each party must have had an opportunity to consult with independent counsel. Minnesota also recognizes postnuptial agreements for those couples who wish to revise their prenup – or who just didn’t get around to making one before the wedding. These have their own requirements.

The truth is that marriage itself is a contract in the eyes of the law. Minnesota residents who have been through a divorce can attest that the courts treat their marriage with the same kind of emotional detachment they would use when dealing with a sales contract dispute between two fish merchants. Prenuptial agreements may be unromantic, but they can give the parties a welcome amount of control over what will happen if the marriage dissolves in the future.

Source: Forbes, “Skittish About A Prenup? Like It Or Not, You Already Have One,” July 17, 2013


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