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What You Need to Know About Prenuptial Agreements in Brainerd

by | Aug 24, 2018 | Brainerd, Family Law, Firm News

Until recently, only super-rich couples bothered with this area of family law. There was no uniform law, so these documents were difficult to draft. This lack of law also meant unpredictable results. Brainerd lawyers could enforce prenups without issue in some places and be laughed out of court in other jurisdictions.

But the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act changed all that. This law, or a variation of it, is effective in all Minnesota counties and most U.S. states. The UPMAA sets clear ground rules for what is, and is not, allowed in premarital agreements.

As a result, anyone with any appreciable amount of nonmarital property should probably get a prenup. The same thing goes for any person who has been married before. Premarital agreements are not just “divorce insurance.” They are a way to help your marriage get off to the best possible start.

Why Should a Brainerd Lawyer Make a Premarital Agreement?

Money is generally considered to be the leading cause of marital strife. Sometimes, the issue is a lack of money, and a premarital agreement really cannot fix that problem. Other times, however, there are disagreements as to excess money. Some spouses are savers and some people are spenders. When these two philosophies clash, things could go sideways in a hurry.

Debt payment is often an issue as well. For example, Wife may resent the fact that Husband uses money from his paycheck (marital property) to pay off his student loans (non-marital debt).

A prenuptial agreement basically removes financial matters from the equation. If money is not an issue, it can never be a problem in your marriage. Furthermore, if needs change, a Brainerd lawyer can simply amend the pact.

These financial matters obviously extend to divorce-related matters. In some cases, a premarital agreement can place a very low cap on spousal support payments or even eliminate this obligation altogether. The same thing applies to property division.

Premarital agreements can also cover inheritance and succession matters. That’s particularly important if a spouse owns a small business. A prenup can specify what happens to the business after the marriage ends. Many people also draw up wills and other executory documents at this time.

How Can Brainerd Lawyers Break a Premarital Agreement?

Under the old system, judges upheld premarital agreements or struck them down largely based on what they believed to be fair. But once again, the UPMAA has standardized the process. Now, there are basically two ways to break premarital agreements:

  • Involuntary: Almost all premarital agreements involve some pressure to sign, up to things like a “sign or else” ultimatum. Such pressure usually does not invalidate the agreement. But if one spouse springs a prenup on the other spouse at the absolute last minute, or the other spouse does not have a lawyer, the agreement may be involuntary as a matter of law.
  • Unconscionable: There is a difference between “uneven” and “unconscionable.” 60-40, and even 70-30, is uneven but probably not unconscionable. Furthermore, the agreement must be unconscionable at the time the parties signed it.

Brainerd lawyers usually insert severability clauses into prenuptial agreements. So, if a judge invalidates one part, the rest remains in effect.

How It Works

Some baseball fans may recall the names Jamie and Frank McCourt. This super-rich California couple owned the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 2000s.

After winning the World Series in 1988, with the help of Kirk Gibson’s unbelievable home run, the Dodgers underachieved throughout the 1990s. Fan interest waned and revenue dried up. By 2011, the team was in bankruptcy court.

At roughly the same time, the McCourts were in divorce court. Since the team had basically no value, Jamie agreed to give up her half of the club in exchange for about $180 million in cash and property.

The team soon bounced back, both athletically and financially. In just a few short years, the Dodgers were back on top. Frank, who was the sole owner at that time, sold the team for over $2 billion (with a “b”). Jamie almost immediately went back to court, attempting to undo the property agreement. She argued that the agreement was involuntary because Frank withheld documents. She also argued that the agreement was unconscionable, since it left her about $900 million short of a 50-50 division.

The court disagreed. Frank produced thousands of financial documents during the divorce proceedings. And even if he withheld information, Jamie was a co-owner at the time, so she had full access to the numbers. Furthermore, the agreement was not unconscionable when it was made. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Jamie got a lot of money, and Frank got a worthless, has-been baseball team. Jamie lost her appeal, but President Donald Trump recently tapped her as ambassador to France. That’s a pretty nice consolation prize.

California is also a UPMAA state, so the results would have been basically the same in any uniform law jurisdiction.

Call Today To Speak With An Experienced Brainerd Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

People who have been married before should consider premarital agreements. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd lawyer in family law, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle cases in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.