How Strong are MN Prenups?
Prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more commonplace. People sign them as a way to protect their assets when they enter a marriage, in case of divorce or death. However, these prenuptial agreements aren’t always as ironclad as many would like to believe.
There are many reasons why people have prenuptial agreements. In the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse, questions may arise about the fairness of the prenuptial agreement at the time it was signed – and how fair it remains at the time of divorce. Basically, iIt’s a document that can be challenged, so read on to find out more.
Fairness at Signing
One of the questions that may be asked about a prenuptial agreement in Minnesota during a divorce or after the death of one spouse is: How fair was it at the time of signing? Questions may include:
- Were both sides fairly represented by an attorney to help advise them?
- Were all the assets disclosed?
- Was it done in a rush at the last minute?
- Was one side under pressure to sign it from the other?
Many circumstances surrounding the signing of the contract can be seen as procedurally unfair, which may be grounds to contest it.
Of course, another important question is to ask whether or not the terms of the prenup were reasonable when it was signed. It could be the case that the terms were very lopsided and unfair or that one party was given too little or too much.
It can also be asked whether or not one party was being asked to give something up in return. For instance, someone might leave their career to stay home and raise children, but the agreement precludes them from getting spousal maintenance in the event of a divorce. The court may determine that to be substantively unfair, since they gave up accruing their individual wealth to contribute to the family.
Fairness During Divorce
Another area where prenuptial agreements are often challenged: examining how fair they are at the time of the divorce proceedings. If the marriage and the circumstances surrounding it have evolved in such a way as to make the agreement unfair, then one spouse may challenge it. The circumstances for this kind of challenge can vary greatly.
For example, when the prenup was signed, one spouse may have been making far more money than the other, so they committed to paying spousal maintenance. However, at the time of divorce, that spouse may not be making as much. In this scenario, that term in the prenup can be challenged or deemed invalid.
Even still, there are some parts of a prenup that may not be enforceable if, for example, one party brought a lot of money into the union, and both parties spent it over the course of their marriage.
How Does It End?
If you are subject to a prenuptial agreement, and you want to challenge it, then the court may have a trial to decide on the prenuptial agreement alone – before moving on to the divorce proceedings. After all, the validity of a prenup can impact how a divorce plays out, so it’s vital to get that settled first.
If you signed a prenup that you now believe to be totally or partially invalid, then make sure to secure an experienced attorney during your divorce. They can help you challenge your prenup and get a fair settlement in the end.
About the Author:
A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.