Premarital Agreements

This is an agreement by the couple before marriage stating how the parties’ money, debts, property, and assets must be divided should the parties ever divorce. Premarital agreements are also known as antenuptial agreements or prenups.


Common questions about Premarital Agreements

What is a premarital agreement? It’s a prenup.

A premarital agreement, or prenuptial agreement, establishes how a couple who is about to marry is going to divide their assets and debts if they divorce. Although the thought of planning for a divorce is far from romantic, nearly 50% of marriages fail and a prenuptial agreement specifies who gets what from the marriage so a divorce is easier and less expensive. A prenuptial agreement is not just for rich people, however. It is a financial plan to protect and preserve all that each spouse had before marriage as well as what they built together during the marriage. Prenuptial agreements do not involve where children will live or the parent’s custodial rights and parenting time schedule post-divorce.

What is the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act?

The Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act is a document created in 2012 by the Uniform Law Commission, a national organization of legislators, judges, and attorneys/lawyers from all 50 states and US territories to create and recommend laws for states so they pass consistent legislation.

Minnesota has not adopted this Act. Instead, the legality and enforcement of prenuptial agreements are based upon state law and case law, or rulings from the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court.

In Minnesota when does a premarital agreement becomes effective?

Minnesota Statute Section 519.11, subdivision 1 says a prenuptial agreement, which must be put in writing, is valid and enforceable in court if “(a) there is a full and fair disclosure of the earnings and property of each party, and (b) the parties have had an opportunity to consult with legal counsel of their own choice”. So, both parties need to each retain their own separate lawyer well before the wedding to layout their incomes, assets, and debts to each other. That information is included in the prenuptial agreement in order to know “who had what” prior to the marriage. Surprising a soon-to-be spouse with a prenuptial agreement a few weeks before the wedding is a sure-fire way to have a prenuptial agreement fall apart in divorce court.

How long does it take for a premarital agreement to expire?

Prenuptial agreements do not have an expiration date. They last as long as the marriage. Minnesota law allows a couple to sign a postnuptial agreement to plan how to divide assets and debts in a divorce while currently married. The law is very strict as to when and how a couple can use this sort of planning. For example, both parties must have their own divorce attorney or the postnuptial agreement is void. Plus, the postnuptial agreement’s validity will be questioned if a divorce begins within two years of the couple signing it. Premarital and postnuptial agreements are contracts so they must be drafted in very specific ways to have the parties’ financial plans stick.

What’s the difference between prenuptial and antenuptial agreements?

What is the difference between a prenuptial agreement and an antenuptial agreement? These are two different terms referring to the very same legal agreement made between two people who are about to marry that establishes their rights to real estate, investments, division of credit card accounts and other assets and debts in the event of a divorce, legal separation or death. The key to making this sort of legal agreement enforceable in court is (a) a full and fair disclosure of the earnings and property of each party and (b) the parties have had an opportunity to consult with legal counsel of their own choice. Timing is important. The validity of a prenuptial or antenuptial agreement is also based upon not rushing into the agreement. For example, signing an agreement two to three months before the wedding is legally better than the night before the wedding.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with a premarital agreement attorney, Jessica Sterle, please schedule an initial consultation appointment online and fill out the Consultation Intake Form.