Antenuptial Agreements

In today’s world, divorce has become commonplace, affecting the lives of approximately one half of married couples across the United States. As one of the Twin Cities’ leading family law practices, the Gallagher Law Office, L.L.C. offers clients top-quality counsel and compassionate service in designing creative strategies to protect your rights and limit liabilities in case of a divorce or the death of a spouse.

Antenuptial Agreements in Minnesota

Minnesota law provides a process for couples to enter into agreements to determine what will happen to their finances and property in the event that the marriage ends in divorce, separation, or in the event of the death of a spouse. Such agreements are called antenuptial agreements. The terms prenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, are different terms for the same document.

The term “ante” means before and the word “nuptial” refers to marriage. Placed together, the term “antenuptial” simply means before the marriage. This agreement, like any contract, can involve a variety of terms and act as a safeguard for each individual in the event of divorce or the death of one spouse.

In Minnesota, antenuptial agreements are enforced by the courts if they are both procedurally and substantively fair. Most individuals enter into a contract with a future spouse to protect assets they want to keep separate from marital property, but the agreements can be an effective tool for deciding how to pay off marital debt and structure spousal maintenance.

Why do Couples Sign Antenuptial Agreements?

Most couples enter into an antenuptial agreement because they have assets that they wish to protect in the event of dissolution of marriage occurs or in the event that the spouse in whose name the assets are held predeceases the other spouse. Others, having been previously married, wish to have an antenuptial agreement to protect and preserve their assets for children from prior marriages.

Some persons believe they can enter into an antenuptial agreement and decide exactly what will happen in the event of separation or divorce, right down to which party gets custody of the children. The Court is not bound to uphold the provisions of an agreement that violate the laws of Minnesota. Certain provisions of an ante nuptial agreement, for example, who will have custody, the terms of visitation and/or child support are scrutinized by the Court at the time of separation and divorce to determine what is in the best interests of the children and whether the support provided is within the laws of Minnesota. The Court may ignore the entire provision if it is against the law or public policy.

When to Consider a “Prenup”

If you are getting married and you have assets with equity that is substantial and/or if you were previously married and wish to protect your estate for your children from a prior marriage you should consult an attorney to determine if the cost of having an antenuptial agreement drafted is worth the protection that it will afford you.

Antenuptial agreements take substantial time to prepare. The preparation of the antenuptial agreement can run anywhere from 15 hours of billable attorney time at the very low end to in excess of several hundred hours for complicated or highly negotiated agreements.