What You Can and Cannot Do with an Antenuptial Agreement

Are you trying to figure out whether an antenuptial (or prenuptial) agreement is right for you before you get legally married? Consider what the document can and cannot do before making your decision.

An antenuptial agreement can…

  • Shield you from certain debts. If you don’t want responsibility for your spouse’s debts in the event of a divorce, you may include this as a stipulation in your agreement.
  • Make arrangements for children from previous marriages. To ensure your children from a previous marriage get their share of inheritance of your property, for example, you may include instructions in your antenuptial agreement.
  • Separate finances and assets. Your antenuptial agreement may define which property and finances are marital and community property, which would help you in the property division process should a divorce become necessary.
  • Establish marital responsibilities. Your antenuptial agreement can lay out who will pay the bills, how you’ll handle credit cards, how you’ll save money, costs for college or businesses, how you’ll settle financial disagreements and what sorts of estate planning tools you will use.

An antenuptial agreement cannot…

  • Put any restrictions on child custody, support or visitation. These decisions are always left up to the court if the parents are unable to make agreements at the time of their divorce.
  • Include any language encouraging a divorce. Judges will take a close look at the language of your antenuptial agreement to ensure it doesn’t give either party a financial incentive to get divorced at the first sign of trouble in a marriage.
  • Leave one party with all of the assets and the other with nothing. Generally speaking, courts will not allow one party to be left with zero assets while the other is awarded everything. It is important to contemplate the requirement for substantive fairness both at the time of execution and at the time of the divorce.
  • Make rules about matters not related to finances. You cannot, for example, set ground rules regarding chores around the house, when you’ll spend time with in-laws, how you will raise children or whether or not you’ll have pets.

For more information on creating a prenuptial agreement, speak with an experienced Minneapolis family lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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