Prenuptial Agreements in Minnesota

An overview of prenuptial agreements in Minnesota.

By , Attorney · Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
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An overview of prenuptial agreements in Minnesota.

If marriage is in your future plans, you may want to add a prenuptial agreement to your wedding to-do list. Prenuptial agreements are now more common than ever. Many couples choose to have a prenuptial agreement as a protection from the uncertainty of divorce.

For couples considering a prenuptial agreement, it's important to understand the rules governing premarital agreements in your state. This article provides an overview of prenuptial agreements in Minnesota and explains what makes them enforceable. If after reading this article you have questions, please contact a local family law attorney for advice.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

Essentially, a "prenuptial agreement" or "antenuptial agreement" is a contract made between two individuals who are planning to get married. A prenuptial agreement sets forth the rights of each spouse and property division in a divorce. A prenup can also address certain issues not set forth in a will if either spouse dies. A prenuptial agreement only becomes enforceable if the couple actually marries.

What is a Post-Nuptial Agreement?

A post-nuptial agreement is the same as a prenuptial agreement except that it's entered into after the couple has married. Both prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements are recognized in Minnesota.

Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenups are used in a variety of circumstances. Often, individuals with significant assets execute a prenuptial agreement to keep their money and property separate. Also, couples on a second or third marriage may use a prenup to avoid another messy divorce.

When two people marry, separate property typically becomes marital property and is subject to division during a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can allow a spouse to keep his or her property separate. Thus, anyone who wants to keep control of his or her assets and property may need a prenuptial agreement.

What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?

Generally, a prenuptial agreement can resolve any matter relating to the spouses' property, alimony, assets and debts. For example, a prenuptial agreement may deal with some of the following issues:

  • each spouse's rights to certain property owned individually or as a couple
  • the division of assets and debts in the event of divorce or death
  • the division of expenses during marriage
  • whether gifts and/or inheritances will be considered marital or separate property
  • whether either spouse is entitled to alimony in the event of divorce, and if so, how much and for how long, and
  • whether each spouse will receive death benefits from the other's insurance policy.

Can a Prenuptial Agreement Resolve Child Custody and Child Support in Minnesota?

While there's a lot that prenuptial agreements can do, they can't decide future child support obligations. Child support belongs to the child and parents can't contract away a child's right to be supported.

A judge will make a final ruling on custody or child support during a divorce proceeding. The court will decide custody or approve the parents' custody agreement based on the best interests of the child at the time of separation. If parents include child custody or support provisions in their prenuptial agreement, the court will ignore those terms.

How Do I Ensure my Prenuptial Agreement is Enforceable in Minnesota?

Minnesota is in the minority of states that have not adopted the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA). What this means is that Minnesota state law governs the enforceability of prenuptial agreements.

As a general matter, in Minnesota, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both future spouses. Additionally, the agreement must be executed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary. Finally, the prenuptial agreement should be signed before the couple marries to be enforceable. If the couple doesn't marry, the prenup is invalid.

Under Minnesota law, a prenuptial agreement will generally be upheld if the following circumstances exist:

  • each spouse fully and fairly disclosed his or her earnings, assets and debts to the other
  • each spouse had the opportunity to meet with legal counsel of his or her own choice
  • each spouse signed the agreement voluntarily, and
  • the agreement is recorded in the county where either of the spouse's real property is located.

Additionally, a court will look at whether the prenuptial agreement is conscionable, or fair at the time it was signed. However, a court will determine than an agreement is unfair by looking at its result at the time of divorce. A prenup may be considered unconscionable if one spouse is awarded all the assets while the other is left only with debts. Moreover, a spouse who is forced to seek public assistance because he or she isn't awarded alimony under the agreement may seek to have it overturned. The court will deem an unconscionable agreement to be invalid.

If a marriage is later voided because the spouses were not of legal age, or the marriage never occurs, a court will usually refuse to enforce the prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements can be complex, if you have additional questions about their impact contact a Minnesota family law attorney for advice.

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