Is a Prenuptial Agreement Right for Your Marriage?

McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C.

Entering into a marriage relationship requires careful consideration. From a financial stance, it is important to know what each person brings to the marriage, be it assets or debt. Sometimes couples utilize a prenuptial agreement so there are no surprises or preconceived notions about expectations down the road.

What Is a prenuptial agreement?

Wisconsin is a community property state. This means anything that a couple acquires during a marriage belongs to both individuals, equally. In the event of a divorce, a judge will divide all assets equitably. A prenuptial agreement allows a couple to create a contract spelling out what happens to their property and belongings should the marriage end in separation, divorce or even death.

Should I consider a prenuptial agreement?

Determining if a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your future spouse is a matter of serious discussion and consideration. Some scenarios that might warrant this type of agreement include:

  • A lot of debt is being brought into the marriage by one or both spouses
  • One or both parties own property prior to the marriage
  • There is a considerable wealth difference between the couples
  • If either person has been married before or has children

While Wisconsin law presumes all assets shall be divided equally in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement can override this law if the court determines that it is a valid contract. It is important to know the court has the discretion to sustain all, none or only parts of the prenuptial agreement.

What the court considers

When deciding if it will endorse a prenuptial agreement, the court will ensure that certain requirements are met. This includes considering if the agreements were fair at the time of the signing, and both parties knowingly and voluntarily entered into the agreement. They might also deliberate on if there was complete financial disclosure by both parties and if they both had adequate legal representation. Finally, the court may determine if there was a substantial change in circumstances at the time of the divorce.

Can I change my mind after marriage?

This is a frequently asked question as couples are considering the next steps for their marriage. If you enter into a prenuptial agreement and then decide to forgo the formality later, you can revise the document with a postnuptial agreement.

If you decide a prenuptial agreement is appropriate for your marriage, it is important to have competent family law attorney when the contract is drafted to ensure that the best interests of both parties are considered. Contact the family law experts at McLario, Helm, Bertling & Spiegel to discuss your options.

Contact our Wisconsin family law firm to schedule a free consultation.
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