Prenuptial agreements are famous for being for the rich. But what exactly is a prenuptial agreement besides something you do before you get married? And is it for me? Petrelli Previtera, LLC serving Littleton and Centennial is a divorce law firm that specializes in divorce cases, child custody cases, child support cases, and other family law cases. With over 30 years of experience, we’re the go-to divorce attorneys for your family law needs. Contact us today!
WHAT’S A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT?
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement you enter into before your nuptials (marriage). It is a written contract that typically lists all the assets of both parties as well as any debt owed that includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of a divorce. Some prenuptial agreements (prenup for short) will have stipulations for adultery and guardianship as well. A postnuptial agreement is very similar in content with almost the same legal qualifications and stipulations — it is just entered into after the marriage. Prenups used to be known as marriage contracts, since marriage itself is a contract.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT ABOUT PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS?
- A prenup has to be fair. Both parties need independent attorneys (usually family law attorneys such as Petrelli Previtera in Highlands Ranch) to review the contract, and both parties must disclose all assets.
- Circumstances can change in a prenup. Let’s say in 20 years you get a divorce. Well, by that time, you have already adjusted to a certain lifestyle. Your circumstances have changed, and this can be taken into account in your prenup. You may be entitled to more living expenses than originally laid out, for example. Children also change the circumstances to a prenup.
- Future expectations can be taken into account. If one of the parties has a trust fund that is not accessible until someone dies, this can impact the terms of the prenup and needs to be disclosed in the prenup agreement.
- Premarital assets are separate. The whole point and advent of a prenup is to protect the wealth you have worked hard for before you got married. Usually, all monies each party has before the marriage is off limits to the other party. This means your original net worth cannot be touched in the event of a divorce. Allowances can be made, but they must be written.
- Alimony. This is a big consideration, especially if one spouse becomes wildly successful after the marriage financially. Usually, terms are stipulated or they just aren’t mentioned at all.
- Terms of death. A prenup can address what happens to each party’s assets they had before the marriage after their death. This allows them to leave their premarital assets to whomever they want — as long as the spouse is still sufficiently provided for.
- Children. This is the one topic prenups are barred from stipulating terms for. Child support cannot be addressed nor can any rights of the children be compromised. Most often, children are not mentioned at all.
- Derogatory comments. In this internet-driven world, increasingly prenups are including provisions for not disclosing the terms of the divorce to the media or making disparaging comments about the other spouse on social media if a break-up does occur.
DO YOU NEED A PRENUP AGREEMENT?
A prenuptial agreement is no longer just for rich people or celebrities. A prenup is for anyone who has assets to protect in case of a dissolution of marriage, or assets of children from another marriage, such as trust funds, to protect. Each prenup is individual and tailored to your needs. You should sit down with your significant other and agree to the terms. You can even specify who will get the family pet if you break up. Provisions should include events for if a divorce does occur, such as who will live in the family home and who will pay the property taxes and homeowners’ insurance on that home. Like wills, prenups need to be updated as your situation changes, and most are subject to the court’s interpretation.
In sum, each couple should evaluate their options to decide if a prenup is right for them. Ask yourself some basic questions to determine if a prenuptial agreement is right for you.
- Do you own real estate?
- Do you own a business?
- Do you have a significant amount saved up for retirement?
- Do you make more than $100,000 a year?
- Do your assets total more than $50,000?
- Do you have stock options or profit sharing in your company?
- Do you have children from a previous marriage who may be inheriting assets?
WHAT IS COLORADO LAW FOR PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS?
Colorado adopted the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA), which is a set of rules governing the enforceability of prenuptial agreements in 2014. This law states:
- Prenuptial agreements must be in writing; oral agreements won’t be enforced.
- Each spouse must sign the agreement.
- The prenuptial agreement becomes effective only after the couple is married.
Prenuptials can be contested if you can prove one of three conditions:
- The contesting spouse signed the agreement involuntarily or under duress.
- The contesting spouse didn’t have access to legal representation.
- The contesting spouse didn’t receive proper financial disclosures from the other spouse before signing the prenuptial agreement.
- The contesting spouse believes the prenup to be unconscionable, or unreasonably excessive or not right.
Each one of these prenuptial conditions are difficult to prove. Duress is when one spouse threatens another with physical or psychological harm if the prenup is not signed. If a spouse didn’t have access to legal representation, this is usually due to time constraints. Springing a prenup on your bride or groom the day of the wedding is grounds for contesting it. If a spouse hid financials from the other spouse, the prenup can be contested. It’s best to offer up certified personal financial disclosures in your prenup to avoid this hassle later on down the road in the event of dissolution of marriage. Unconscionable is incredibly hard to prove and is decided on a case-by-case basis. This can lead to the entire document being thrown out by the court, which may make your problem worse than before.
Petrelli Previtera OFFERS PRENUP AGREEMENT SERVICES
The most important thing to remember about prenup agreements is to hire top-notch family lawyers, such as Petrelli Previtera in Douglas County. Most family lawyers will handle prenuptial agreements — both writing them and reviewing them. Two family lawyers are required to make sure each party is represented impartially and to help eliminate any future contesting issues.
Petrelli Previtera, LLC offer prenup agreement services in the Jefferson and Douglas County areas. In addition, our divorce attorney team offers our services in child custody cases, divorce cases, mediation, alimony, and complex property division issues. With 30 years of combined experience, we pride ourselves on solving your complex family law issues with as little added stress, headaches, and confusion as possible. We will answer all of your questions and lay out all of your options, as well as advise you which option we see as the best for your individual situation. Dependable and confidential, Petrelli Previtera in Highlands Ranch makes your priorities our priorities in all areas related to family law. Contact us today for a confidential divorce attorney consultation!