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Pre-nuptial agreements growing in popularity

It is unlikely that many Minnesota couples walk down the aisle on their wedding day thinking that their marriage will end in a divorce. However, statistics show that a substantial number of marriages do, for a variety of reasons. When that happens, one aspect of the prospect can become complicated, and that is property division.

Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, which means that a divorce court will divide marital property between the parties in a manner that it deems fair. This is not necessarily equal, however, and one or both estranged spouses may not be pleased with the result. One way to avoid this is when the couple can otherwise come to an agreement during negotiations. Another way could be to have the issue resolved in mediation.

There is yet another way to attempt to avoid leaving the decision in the hands of a judge, and that is for the couple to address these potential issues in a prenuptial agreement. Although many people think that these types of documents are reserved for the rich and famous, in actuality most couples can benefit from having one. In addition to prompting the future spouses to have frank financial discussions, these agreements can set forth exactly what will be considered separate property that will not be subject to future division. This doesn’t have to be limited to property already owned, however. It can include future inheritances and gifts that a party might receive during the marriage.

While prenuptial agreements often address other topics such as alimony, there are certain things such as child custody and child support that will be unenforceable, as courts view them as being against public policy. A couple that is considering such an agreement should discuss it with their respective family law attorneys, and if they decide to go forward, it should be signed well in advance of the wedding in order to preclude a later challenge by one of the parties who claims that it was signed under duress.

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