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How prenuptial agreements work

Many couples use prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to set provisions in the event of a future divorce. Minnesota law generally enforces both kinds of agreements so long as they meet certain requirements.

A prenuptial, or antenuptial, agreement takes place before the marriage. Minnesota law sets out two broad requirements for a valid prenup.

Disclosure

First, the agreement should include a "full and fair disclosure" of each party's income and assets. This rule aims to block either of the parties from hiding assets and tricking their partner into accepting the terms of the prenup without access to all the facts.

Opportunity to get legal advice

The law also requires both parties to have the chance to review the agreement with their respective attorneys and get legal advice. This stops one party from suddenly producing the prenup right before the wedding and demanding he or she sign or the nuptials are off. As with any other contract, it is common sense to get a trusted lawyer to look at the terms and advise you as to potential ramifications.

Postnuptial agreements

Postnuptial agreements, drafted and signed after the marriage, must meet the above requirements. In addition, Minnesota law actually demands separate representation for each spouse; this is a more stringent requirement than simply the chance to speak with a lawyer. Courts may also refuse to enforce a postnuptial agreement if either spouse initiated official separation or divorce proceedings two years or less after signing.

Scope and limit of agreements

Both types of agreements may cover a wide range of subjects. Common issues spouses choose to resolve this way include property division, what happens to a specific asset, alimony and more. If you own a business, making provisions for its fate through a prenup can help shield it from losses during the divorce process.

One issue prenups may not take care of is child support. Minnesota law considers child support as a right due to the child, not either of the parents, and sets forth specific guidelines for calculation. Therefore, parents may not treat it as something the two of them can negotiate.

If you want your prenup to address potential issues comprehensively and effectively, you need a qualified lawyer to aid you in drafting a document that handles your particular circumstances optimally. A lawyer can also give you advice as to potential areas of concern and changing circumstances that may affect the provisions of your agreement.

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