Thinking about marriage but concerned about protecting your assets and income in case of divorce? An antenuptial agreement (i.e. “prenup”) is a written contract between people who are engaged to marry which predetermines how assets and liabilities will be allocated in the event of divorce or death, and can also address spousal maintenance in the event of a divorce. But to be enforceable, these agreements must comply with several complex legal rules under a recent 2018 Minnesota Supreme Court case.
New Requirements for Antenuptial Agreements
In Kremer v. Kremer 1, the Supreme Court refused to enforce a prenup for two reasons. First, the challenging spouse did not receive sufficient value or “consideration” in exchange for signing away her claims to assets and spousal maintenance in the event of divorce. Second, the Court also determined she signed the agreement under duress because she received the agreement just three days before a destination wedding thousands of miles away.
Significantly, the Kremer case presents several criteria which must be satisfied if a prenup will be enforced. Was there reasonable access to legal counsel? Were the financial disclosures sufficient? Were the terms of the prenup fair both at the time it was signed and at the time of enforcement? Among other things, the question of fairness assesses whether the challenging spouse received adequate consideration at the time the prenup was signed and at the time a party seeks to enforce the prenup (e.g. at divorce). The court, therefore, examines whether any changes in the parties’ lives (the birth of children, a disability, etc.) would make enforcement of the agreement “oppressive and unconscionable.”
The Kremer case proves that the prenups are not simple cookie-cutter contracts. Instead, prenups involve complex issues which require the judgment and drafting skills of an experienced family law lawyer.
With more than 35 years of experience in Minnesota divorce law and prenuptial agreements, Kathleen M. Newman Family Law offers compassionate legal guidance and family law resources. Our goal is to understand the facts you bring to us as they relate to your unique situation. To learn more about our legal services, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.
1912 N.W.2d 617 (Minn. 2018).