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Should Couples Consult Hutchinson Lawyers About Premarital Agreements?

by | Sep 1, 2018 | Family Law, Firm News, Minnesota

Homeowners do not expect their houses to burn down, and they certainly do not hope that they burn down. Nevertheless, responsible owners always get fire insurance.

The same idea applies with regard to premarital agreements. No one expects to get a divorce, and we’re quite certain that no one goes into a marriage hoping that it ends in divorce. But responsible spouses, like responsible homeowners, should be prepared for the unexpected and unfortunate. So, especially if one or both spouses have been married before, most couples should talk to a Hutchinson lawyer about a premarital agreement.

Minnesota is one of the few states that has not adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. However, the law in the Gopher State is very similar to the UPMAA. So, results are quite predictable, both inside Minnesota and across state lines. That’s important, because most married couples move frequently.

Making a Premarital Agreement

Money is one of the leading causes of marital strife. Financial problems come in many forms. Some couples have problems paying the bills, and that situation causes stress. However, in many cases, such issues are also rather easy to address, as long as each partner is willing to make sacrifices.

But excess money is another matter. Some people are savers, and some people are spenders. Absent guidance, they will always be at odds. A Hutchinson lawyer could use a premarital agreement to provide that guidance. These pacts remove money from the equation before it has a chance to poison your relationship.

Many couples include language in their premarital agreements which limits spousal support in some situations. Pre-arranged property clarification and division provisions are very popular as well.

Premarital agreements can do more than address money. Assume Ben divorces Sue but he remains very close to Ben Jr. Under the laws of Minnesota and most states, if Ben marries Jane, Ben Jr. would not receive a share of Ben’s inheritance and would be unable to take over Ben’s Barber Shop. A premarital agreement can cover complex inheritance and succession matters like these.

The Bens of the world might also consider drafting wills, trusts, and other executory documents to go along with their premarital agreements.

How Hutchinson Lawyers Can Break Premarital Agreements

Minnesota law has a strong presumption in favor of spousal agreements. Judges usually uphold such agreements if at all possible. However, almost no contracts are ironclad, and premarital agreements are no exception. So, there are basically four ways to challenge a premarital agreement in Minnesota:

  • Full Disclosure: Each spouse must provide all important financial information about all their nonmarital property holdings. To win on this point, challenging spouses must also normally prove that they could not get the missing information from any other source.
  • Separate Counsel: This is one of the major provisions which did not make it into the UPMAA. If each party did not have a different Hutchinson lawyer, the agreement is invalid. This rule is also related to the next one.
  • Involuntary: There is almost always some pressure to sign a premarital agreement. That pressure may even include an ultimatum, like “sign this deal or the wedding is off.” At some point, the pressure is too much. So, this point is specific to the facts of each case. If both spouses had lawyers and plenty of time to consult with them, involuntariness is hard to prove.
  • Unconscionable: A premarital agreement cannot be egregiously unfair, e.g. one spouse gets all the assets and one gets all the debts. Normally, the agreement must be unconscionable at the time it was made.

Hutchinson lawyers insert severability clauses into most premarital agreements. So, if a judge invalidates one part, the remainder survives.

How It Works

One of the more famous premarital agreement disputes involved Frank and Jamie McCourt, the erstwhile owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unlike Minnesota, California is a UPMAA state, so the results may be a little different here.

Frank and Jamie owned the team through most of the early and mid-2000s. After several years of subpar play, the team had fallen on hard times financially. The club eventually declared bankruptcy in 2011.

While the team was in bankruptcy court, its owners were in divorce court. Since the team was basically worthless, Jamie signed away her half for about $200 million in cash and property. Shortly thereafter, Frank sold the revitalized team for $2 billion.

Jamie tried to overturn the property agreement. She argued that Frank withheld financial documents and that the agreement was unconscionable. It left her about $900 million shy of a 50-50 split.

But the court disagreed. The judges observed that Jamie was a team co-owner at the time, so she could have easily dug deeper into the team’s value. Furthermore, the agreement was not unconscionable when it was made.

Jamie may have lost her appeal, but President Donald Trump recently made her ambassador to Monaco and France. That’s not a bad consolation prize.

Call Today To Speak With A Hutchinson Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

A solid premarital agreement puts your marriage on a firmer foundation and gives you peace of mind. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have offices in Hutchinson, Brainerd, Buffalo, and Minnetonka.