Prenuptial Agreements in Idaho

Learn how Idaho courts interpret prenuptial agreements.

While many people still view prenuptial agreements as “unromantic,” they have become much more popular among engaged couples in recent years. Prenuptial agreements were once viewed only as a protection for the very wealthy. But today, many spouses enter into these agreements to decide for themselves how their property will be divided if they happen to divorce.

If you are considering getting a prenuptial agreement, you should understand how they work under your state’s laws. This article explains what kinds of provisions prenuptial agreements can have in Idaho, and how courts determine whether or not a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a “premarital agreement,” is a contract between two people who plan to get married. The agreement documents the couple's plans for handling their finances, debts, and property, both during the marriage and in the event of divorce. The prenuptial agreement goes into effect when the two people marry.

Who Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements often make the news when extremely wealthy people get divorced, but many more middle income couples are choosing to sign prenuptial agreements to give more certainty to what their financial lives will look like if their marriage ends.

Couples enter prenuptial agreements for many reasons. Some spouses want to make sure that they retain family property or an inheritance if they divorce. Others own businesses or financial accounts prior to the marriage that they don’t want to commingle with the marital property. Prenuptial agreements can also be used to protect expected inheritances planned for a spouse’s offspring from a previous relationship, retirement accounts, as well as property gained during the marriage. Couples also use prenuptial agreements to determine whether one spouse will pay the other spouse if the marriage ends.

What Issues Can a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?

Prenuptial agreements may cover any of the following issues:

  • the rights and obligations of each spouse regarding property owned by either or both
  • each spouse’s rights to sell, use, transfer, mortgage, or otherwise manage property
  • what happens to each spouse’s property upon separation, divorce, death, or any other event
  • whether either spouse will get alimony, and, if so, the amount and duration of payments
  • whether a spouse is required to make a will to carry out the terms of the agreement
  • who will receive death benefits from each spouse’s life insurance policy
  • which state’s law will interpret the agreement if there is any dispute, and
  • anything else that doesn’t violate the law.

An Idaho prenuptial agreement can consist of more than one document, as long as it’s clear they were meant to be part of the same agreement, and each part is signed by both spouses. Spouses can amend or revoke a prenuptial agreement by putting their changes or revocation in writing anytime after they marry.

Can a Prenuptial Agreement Determine Child Custody and Child Support in Idaho?

An Idaho prenuptial agreement can never determine child custody or child support.

Parents can’t negotiate child support in a prenuptial agreement. Although child support is usually paid from one parent to another, the right to child support belongs to the child. Parents can’t contract away the child’s right to receive financial support from both parents.

Courts decide child custody on a large number of factors, intended to allow the court to determine what is in the child’s best interest at the time the judge decides custody. Idaho law doesn’t allow parents to take that decision away from the courts by writing it into a premarital agreement.

How Can I Ensure my Prenuptial Agreement Is Enforceable in Idaho?

Idaho is one of many states that have adopted the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA). UPAA is a standard set of rules courts use to decide whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

A premarital agreement must be in writing, and both prospective spouses must sign the agreement.

Both spouses must be competent to sign the prenuptial agreement. Individuals who are not competent include minors too young to get married in Idaho, and people who are mentally ill or have severe mental disabilities.

If two people get married when their marriage is not allowed (for example, a spouse is too young or is already married), any prenuptial agreement between them is usually unenforceable. In rare cases, the court may decide to enforce the prenuptial if necessary to avoid an unfair result.

When Will the Court Refuse to Enforce a Prenuptial Agreement?

Courts generally try to enforce contracts between private citizens, including contracts between spouses. Idaho law allows judges to invalidate agreements in certain circumstances when it wouldn’t be just to enforce the agreement. Prenuptial agreements can be invalidated when:

  • one spouse signed the agreement against his or her will
  • enforcing the agreement would cause one spouse to be eligible for public assistance (such as food stamps or welfare), or
  • the agreement was “unconscionable” when signed and each the following is true:
    • one spouse didn’t honestly disclose his or her assets and debts to the other spouse before signing the agreement
    • the defrauded spouse didn’t waive the right to disclosure of assets and debts, and
    • the defrauded spouse didn’t know or couldn’t have known about the assets and debts of the other spouse.

The court will find an agreement unconscionable only if it is so severely unfair that it would be an injustice to enforce it. Courts will consider a prenuptial agreement unconscionable only in very extreme circumstances.

If a spouse makes an unlawful demand or threat that leaves the other spouse no option but to sign the agreement, Idaho courts will invalidate the agreement due to duress. For example, if one spouse forced the other spouse to sign the agreement at gunpoint, or under a threat to hurt a family member, the court would throw out the agreement due to duress. Threatening not to marry the other person on the other hand, is not enough for the court to invalidate the agreement.

If you have additional questions about Idaho prenuptial agreements, contact an  Idaho family law attorney  for advice.

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