A Family Law Attorney in Buffalo, MN Looks at Millennial Prenups

Since many Millenials are children of divorce, when they get married themselves, they are willing to think outside the box if it means keeping their unions intact. So, it’s little wonder that these couples are increasingly entering into premarital agreements before they tie the knot.

Prenuptial agreements are much more than divorce insurance. Frequently, they make marriages stronger. Money is one of the leading sources of marital friction. And, prenups remove financial matters from the equation before these issues have a chance to create tension.

Most agreements between spouses, including premarital agreements, are enforceable. However, Minnesota lawmakers have not adopted the Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act. So, prenups are only enforceable in rather limited circumstances. Therefore, only an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN should handle these matters, whether you are trying to make or break a premarital agreement.

Making Premarital Agreements

Money is not just one of the most problematic issues during a marriage. It’s also one of the most problematic areas during a divorce. And, if the unthinkable happens, most Millennials do not want to pay the steep emotional and financial costs associated with divorce.

Prenuptial agreements clearly distinguish marital property from nonmarital property. So, if the parties divorce, family law attorneys in Buffalo, MN need not spend vast amounts of time classifying property. That’s assuming the prenuptial agreement is enforceable, as set forth below.

Premarital contracts usually also include spousal support limitations. These provisions give people additional peace of mind. If Wife has substantially more money than Husband, Wife and her family both know that Husband is not marrying Wife for her money.

Emotional issues might be a consideration as well, especially if either spouse has been married before and the union involves a small business. Frequently, Minnesota’s antiquated intestacy laws do not keep up with modern families. Prenuptial agreements clarify inheritance and succession matters. To make these decisions even clearer and easier to enforce, mand family law attorneys in Buffalo, MN also draw up executory documents, such as wills and estate plans.

Only a few matters are off-limits in this area, such as child custody and child support. These matters must be in the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents.

Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys and Breaking Premarital Agreements

No contract is absolutely ironclad. There is usually a way to undo almost any kind of contract, and premarital agreements are no exception. Prenups are only enforceable in Minnesota if:

  • Recorded in Deed Records: Since they often affect real property, prenuptial agreements must be recorded in the deed records of Wright County, or wherever the prenup was signed. If the spouses move, the prenuptial agreement must move with them.
  • Voluntary: There is almost always some pressure to sign a premarital agreement. Sometimes, there is excessive pressure, such as a “sign or else” ultimatum. These things are usually not enough to invalidate a premarital contract. But sometimes, the pressure gets too great, and the pact is involuntary.
  • Full Disclosure: This bullet is related to the previous one. Agreements are involuntary if a spouse did not know what s/he was signing. The omission must be material to the issues in the contract. And, most judges also require challenging spouses to prove they could not have obtained the information elsewhere.
  • Unconscionable: A 60-40 division is uneven but probably not unconscionable. A division like “I get all the assets and you get all the debts” is clearly unconscionable. Additionally, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. Stock is a good example. These certificates could be incredibly valuable one day and worthless pieces of paper the next day.
  • Separate Counsel Throughout: Each spouse must have an independent Buffalo, MN family law attorney throughout the entire process, and each spouse must have an equal opportunity to consult with counsel. Wife cannot spring the agreement on Husband at the least minute, even if Husband has a Buffalo, MN family law attorney.

Generally, the challenging party must prove the agreement was invalid by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of evidence in Minnesota.

Furthermore, most premarital agreements have severability provisions. If a judge invalidates one part, the remainder is still in force.

Contact a Diligent Lawyer

Premarital agreements are not just divorce insurance. In many cases, they are anti-divorce insurance. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Love, Baseball, Premarital Agreements, and Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers

Those are four items you probably never thought you’d see in the same sentence. Yet beginning in the spring of 2011, they all came together. Well, all of them except for the Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers component. Nevertheless, the Frank and Jamie McCourt divorce saga has some important lessons for Wright County family law attorneys.

Some baseball fans might remember the McCourts. This billionaire power couple owned the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 2000s.

Minnesota is one of the few states which has not adopted the Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act. Generally, lawmakers in St. Paul do not follow trends. They either start them or ignore them. Nevertheless, the issues presented in the McCourt prenup matter are very similar to the ones Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers face on an ongoing basis.

Prenups in Minnesota and Buffalo, MN Divorce Lawyers: An Overview

Rich couples who own baseball teams are by no means the only people who should consider prenuptial agreements. For the most part, these pacts are much more than divorce insurance. Since they decide most financial matters in advance, prenups usually make marriages stronger. Money is the leading cause of marital distress. And, premarital agreements remove money from the equation.

In Minnesota, prenuptial agreements can cover more than property division, spousal support, and property management issues. These pacts also often address inheritance and succession matters, especially if the couple owns a family business and stepchildren are involved. Frequently, Minnesota’s antiquated inheritance laws do not jive with a couple’s intentions.

Generally, premarital agreements are valid as long as each couple had an independent Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, the agreement was properly recorded in the deed records, it was not blatantly one-sided, and it was voluntary. Those first two requirements are largely technicalities. The second two requirements, however, merit closer attention.

Dodgers Bankruptcy

Aided greatly by Kirk Gibson’s impossible home run in Game One, the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988. After that, the club fielded a succession of underachieving teams. Fan interest waned, and so did team revenues. When the McCourts bought the Dodgers in the early 2000s, they probably thought their investment epitomized the old axiom of buying low and selling high. Little did they know that the Dodgers would sink even lower before they rose again.

The team finally bottomed out in June 2011. Reportedly, Frank McCourt, who was the only remaining owner, did not have enough cash to make payroll. So, the club filed bankruptcy.

Then, something else impossible happened. The Dodgers suddenly became contenders again, largely due to the emergence of pitching ace Clayton Kershaw. Notoriously fickle SoCal fans returned and the team’s revenue exploded. As a result, Frank sold the team for a whopping $2.15 billion.

Breaking Down the McCourt Property Agreement

Just before the Dodgers went to bankruptcy court, the team owners were in divorce court. Supposedly, things came to a head for the feuding couple when Jamie had an affair with her bodyguard.

The divorce was contentious to say the least. Lawyers spent most of their time on the property division. Since the team was on the edge of bankruptcy and almost worthless, Jamie agreed to give up her half of the team for about $180 million in cash and property. That seemed like a good deal at the time.

Jamie’s jaw probably fell open when she saw the news of the sale. After all, California is a community property state. So, she argued in court, half that $2.15 billion was hers.

Eventually, a Superior Court judge disagreed. As mentioned above, Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers can use these same arguments in Wright County.

  • Withheld Information: In both California and Minnesota, prenuptial agreements are invalid if a party withholds financial data. Jamie claimed that Frank misled her about the team’s value. However, the judge noted that Frank produced tens of thousands of financial documents during discovery. Additionally, even if Frank did lie to her, Jamie was a co-owner at the time. So, she could have reviewed all the financial data she wanted.
  • Unconscionable Agreement: By almost any definition, the property agreement’s result was unconscionable. It left Jamie $900 million shy of a 50-50 split in a community property state. However, the agreement was not unconscionable when it was made. According to the court: “Jamie simply chose the security of a guaranteed $131 million payment, plus more than $50 million in real and personal property, over the uncertainty and risk presented by the valuation and sale of the Dodger assets.”

So, Jamie lost her appeal and even had to pay her ex-husband’s legal fees. But her story has a somewhat happy ending. The longtime GOP fundraiser recently became the U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco.

Contact a Dedicated Attorney

Prenups are not just for billionaires. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Seven Reasons Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Draft Premarital Agreements

Over the past twenty years, the number of premarital agreements has increased 500 percent. Streamlined laws and procedures have something to do with this increase. But perhaps more importantly, many Millenials now consider a premarital agreement a must-have.

As outlined below, these agreements cover a number of important issues. So, prenups do more than help eliminate messy divorce proceedings. In many cases, they put marriages on stronger foundations.

Typically, no contracts are ironclad, and that includes premarital agreements. In some cases, Hutchinson, MN lawyers can overturn unfavorable premarital agreements. Generally, McLeod County judges will not honor these pacts if they are blatantly one-sided (e.g. you get all the marital debts and I get all the marital assets) and/or each spouse did not have an independent Hutchinson, MN lawyer during the entire process.

Improved Communication

Money squabbles and poor communication break up more marriages than adultery or almost anything else. Often, these two things overlap. That’s why a premarital agreement is so important. These pacts transfer informal agreements into a black and white legal document that is very hard to break. Additionally, when things change, the spouses can keep the conversation going and modify their premarital agreements.

Entrepreneurship

Many spouses work for startup companies that compensate their employees with stock and stock options instead of cash. Stock is very difficult to value during a divorce. These certificates and options may be essentially worthless when issued and extremely valuable a few years later. Premarital agreements establish a baseline value that time or one spouse cannot unilaterally change.

Social Media and Confidentiality

On a related note, premarital agreements can set boundaries for shared company information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. These limits help entrepreneurial spouses protect their reputations, property, and business interests. The definition of “confidential information” is a bit unclear, which is why a Hutchinson, MN lawyer must be very experienced in this area.

Debt Division

Former college students owe roughly $1.5 trillion in student loans. These individuals have other kinds of debt as well, such as car loans, credit cards, and mortgage debt. When people get married, they often use money from their paychecks, which is marital property, to retire these nonmarital debts. Unless a prenuptial agreement lays down some repayment ground rules, the resulting commingled funds create quite a mess.

Asset Division

If people get divorced, they must do more than fairly divide debts. They must also divide the houses, cars, and other property associated with these debts. Since people are getting married later in life, asset division is much more of an issue now than it was twenty years ago. Assets may become commingled in much the same way as debts. For example, Husband might use a wedding gift from his parents to fix up a rental house Wife owned before the marriage. Depending on the facts, and the wording in a premarital agreement, the house and associated rental income could be marital property, Wife’s nonmarital property, or Husband’s nonmarital property.

Reproductive Rights

Generally, premarital pacts cannot cover child support or any child custody/visitation issues. The best interests of the children, and not the best interests of the parents, guide these matters. However, reproductive rights, such as frozen embryos, are an exception. Nearly a half-million frozen embryos are in storage throughout the country. Premarital agreements clearly state who they belong to if the couple divorces, thus avoiding a possibly bitter emotional fight.

Blended Families

Many people have been married at least once before. Divorce usually severs all inheritance and succession rights, but in many cases, that’s not the intended result. If a spouse had children in that prior relationship, the spouse might want to extend inheritance rights. Additionally, premarital agreements can include (or exclude) step-children and future biological children in these rights. Hutchinson, MN lawyers often draw up wills and other executory documents to go with premarital agreements in these situations.

Reach out to Diligent Attorneys

A premarital agreement is usually a good idea for modern couples. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Five Ways a Hutchinson, MN Family Law Attorney Can Break a Prenuptial Agreement

Premarital agreements are no longer exclusively for the 1 percent. The number of these agreements has increased 500 percent since the 1990s. Such pacts are especially common in subsequent marriages. Prenuptial agreements clarify property and inheritance rights, thus streamlining the divorce process. Furthermore, since many married couples fight over these subjects, especially money, a premarital agreement usually strengthens your marriage.

Minnesota lawmakers have not yet adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. The UPMAA standardizes formation and dissolution matters. So, there may be some significant differences between McLeod County and some other jurisdictions in terms of prenuptial agreement enforcement.

However, as a general rule, once someone signs a contract, that pact is not easy to break. So, if a spouse wants to invalidate an unfavorable prenuptial agreement in the lead-up to a divorce, there are basically five different options. Your Hutchinson, MN family law attorney will thoroughly go over the pros and cons of each one in your particular case.

Timing

In many cases, the p-word comes up many months before the wedding. The parties have plenty of time to digest all the aspects of the agreement before signing it. More importantly, they have the chance to decide if they really want to move forward with the marriage.

But in other cases, the p-word does not come up until the last minute. Even if both spouses have their own Hutchinson, MN family law attorney, they do not have the opportunity to reflect on the agreement. It’s a matter of signing or not signing.

Timing is especially an issue if one spouse works with a lawyer for several months before suddenly springing the prenuptial agreement on the other spouse.

Duress

Timing and duress often overlap. Assume Nadia and Ben plan an expensive, destination wedding. Two days before the ceremony, when most of the guests have made final travel plans, Nadia gives Ben a prenup. Even if Nadia applies no additional pressure, Ben may feel like he has to sign the agreement.

In other cases, however, one spouse must apply considerable pressure. A “sign or else” ultimatum may not be enough. The ultimatum must be something like “you’re not leaving this room until you sign.”

Lack of Full Disclosure

Generally, nondisclosure is the most common argument in this area, largely because it’s one of the most successful ones. Spouses routinely try to hide money or property in other corporate entities. Or, they voluntarily increase their withholding levels to make their incomes look smaller.

Typically, the nondisclosure must be material. Dishonesty about peripheral matters, such as the value of a used car, are probably not enough to overturn the agreement.

Additionally, the information must not be available anywhere else. If Nadia and Ben are also business partners and Nadia lies about the business’ value, Ben probably cannot claim he was duped into signing the pact. As a co-owner, he could obtain all the financial information he wanted.

Unconscionable Divisions

There is a difference between “uneven” and “unconscionable.” A 60-40 marital property division is uneven, but it is probably not unconscionable, especially in some situations. A 70-30 division would probably raise an eyebrow. But in many situations, especially if the 30 percent spouse has substantial nonmarital property, the division may not be unconscionable. To reach that level, the agreement must usually say something like “I get all the assets and you get all the debts.” Unconscionable divisions leave one spouse with insufficient resources to make ends meet post-divorce.

Many courts impose an additional condition. The division must have been unconscionable at the time it was made. This issue comes up frequently with regard to stock certificates. These assets could be virtually worthless one day (think Amazon stock in 1999) and worth a fortune later (Amazon stock today).

Lack of Separate Counsel

If both spouses did not have a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney, a judge will not automatically invalidate the prenuptial agreement, but there is a strong presumption of invalidity. Similarly, separate counsel covers a multitude of sins. Many judges may overlook some undue pressure or other flaws if both spouses had their own lawyers.

The attorneys must be truly separate. If Nadia finds an attorney for Ben and she also pays the bill, Ben’s attorney is not really independent. The same conclusion may apply if Nadia suggests a certain attorney whom Ben eventually retains.

Contact a Dedicated Lawyer

Prenuptial agreements are not ironclad. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

Five Ways to Break a Minnesota Prenup

Premarital agreement rules are still rather intricate in Minnesota, largely because lawmakers have still not adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreements Act. For most of its history, the Gopher State has never been a follow-the-crowd jurisdiction. If Minnesota is not the first state to make a move, there is little support for change. That’s probably the main reason marijuana is still mostly illegal in Minnesota.

However, there is a strong presumption in Minnesota family law in favor of out-of-court settlements. If the parties resolve issues their issues in advance, that’s even better. So, to break a premarital agreement, a Buffalo divorce lawyer typically uses one of the following tried-and-true approaches.

Unrecorded Agreement

Because they concern property matters, premarital agreements must be recorded in the county deed records. This seemingly minor technicality has brought down more prenuptial agreements than you may think.

Many people think the matter is finished once both parties sign on the dotted line, so they never record the instrument. Other times, the couple moves from one county to another one, and their premarital agreement does not move with them.

There are some practical considerations as well. To overcome this objection, the other spouse simply needs to record the instrument. But that’s not as easy as it seems. No one wants to spend several hours digging through old records and recording documents in courthouses. And, the more hurdles that runners must jump over, the less energy they have for the final sprint to the finish line.

Furthermore, failure to record says something about the other attorney. When clients want to challenge premarital agreements, Buffalo divorce lawyers should check the deed records to make sure the agreement is there. If they do not do so, that usually means they don’t have much family law experience and/or they overlook details. Knowledge of an opponent’s weaknesses often comes in handy.

No Separate Counsel

Minnesota State Bar rules make it very clear that one lawyer cannot represent both a husband and a wife in any divorce-related proceeding. But, like failure to record, the lack of separate counsel requirement often has a profound effect.

The key is that both husband and wife must have separate counsel. If Husband generously agrees to pay Wife’s legal bills or graciously refers Wife to a certain attorney, Wife arguably did not have separate counsel. And, unlike recording, lack of separate counsel cannot be undone. If the Buffalo divorce lawyer was not 100 percent independent, the premarital agreement may be hopelessly flawed.

Lack of Full Disclosure

Premarital agreements are only valid in Minnesota if both spouses put all their cards on the table. If Wife does not disclose a separate bank account, even though it’s nonmarital property and technically not part of the premarital agreement, Husband could successfully overturn the agreement.

There may be a corollary here. Some courts impose an additional requirement. If the information was available elsewhere, and the challenging spouse did not diligently look for it, the judge may overlook the lack of disclosure. This issue normally only comes up when both the spouses were business CEOs or otherwise on equal education and vocational footing.

Involuntary

There is almost always some pressure to sign a premarital agreement. Emotional bribery and cajoling (e.g. “If you really love me you’ll sign”) do not make a prenup involuntary. Even if one spouse issues a “sign or else” ultimatum, the agreement is probably not involuntary.

However, there may be some additional circumstances. If Husband springs the prenup on Wife at the last moment, especially if the ceremony is a lavish destination wedding, the pressure to sign could be too much. More than likely, this unfortunate Wife did not have separate counsel either. So, these arguments sometimes overlap.

Unconscionable

Sometimes, the proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes. Blatantly one-sided contracts, including premarital agreements, are usually unenforceable.

There are some important points here. First, there is a difference between uneven and unconscionable. A 60-40 split is uneven but not unconscionable, and the same could be said for a 70-30 or even 80-20 split. Only a division like “I get the assets and you get the debts” is clearly unconscionable.

Second, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. Buyer’s remorse is not enough to overturn a premarital agreement. Stock divisions often fall into this category. Company ownership could be worthless today and extremely valuable tomorrow (e.g. Amazon stock in 1994).

Work with a Tenacious Attorney

Premarital agreements usually stand up in court, but they are not ironclad. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

5 Reasons a Buffalo Divorce Lawyer Should Draft Your Prenup

No one wants or expects a flood to wash away their home or burglars to steal their valuables. Nevertheless, responsible owners still obtain flood insurance and personal property insurance. It just makes good sense to be prepared for the unwanted and the unexpected.

Similarly, no one (or at least almost no one) wants or expects to get divorced. Nevertheless, responsible spouses, especially if they have been married before, should obtain premarital agreements. Once again, it makes sense to be prepared for the unexpected.

However, when a Buffalo family law lawyer prepares a prenuptial agreement, it is much more than divorce insurance. Such an agreement places your marriage on a firmer foundation. Here are a few of the specific benefits.

Remove Money from the Equation

A recent British poll confirmed what most people already suspected. Arguments over money were the leading cause of divorce in the U.K. Significantly, most spouses who squabble with their significant other over money blamed the other spouse for these problems.

According to this same study, disagreements over money have deep roots. Fundamentally, some people are savers and some people are spenders. That’s just the way it is. But these financial leanings usually stay below the surface while a couple is dating. By the time they figure out there is a problem, one of them probably already has an appointment with a Buffalo divorce lawyer.

A premarital agreement eliminates this problem. Instead of sparring over money, the couple simply refers to the contract they signed before the marriage.

As a bonus, when a Buffalo divorce lawyer draws up the agreement, the couple reviews it is a clinical and non-emotional manner. That attitude helps prevent rash financial decisions which one, or both, spouses might regret later.

Protect Inheritance and Succession Rights

For the most part, only biological or adopted children have inheritance rights. Stepchildren generally have no rights at all in this area. Many times, the stepparent intends a different result. For example, if Jose dies suddenly, he may want his stepson to take over the business as opposed to his estranged biological daughter. That’s especially true if Jose’s stepson already has an active role in the business. If Jose dies suddenly, his partners and employees might wish to continue working with his stepson as opposed to someone they neither know nor trust.

A premarital agreement is one of the only legal documents which can override Minnesota’s antiquated intestacy laws. To cement the deal, Buffalo divorce lawyers often draw up wills, trusts, and other testamentary or executory documents which back up the premarital agreement.

Avoid a Protracted Marriage Dissolution Proceeding

Two-thirds of second marriages end in divorce, and three-fourths of third marriages end the same way. Some psychologists believe that many of these people are still on the rebound from their prior marriages. Others point out that, in many subsequent marriages, the husband and wife have no biological children. As such, these marriages lack that emotional glue.

Even if the marriage ends in divorce, that does not mean that the spouses dislike each other. A smooth divorce often preserves what little civility is left, and a premarital agreement is a good way to bring about that result. As mentioned, premarital agreements cover both emotional and financial issues.

Debt or Asset Imbalance

Sometimes, the prince marries the pauper. Premarital agreements offer protection for the prince’s assets in these and other situations. Many times, assets have an emotional value which eclipses any financial value. A retirement account is a good example. Even if it does not contain much money, it represents long-term security.

More commonly, one spouse has significant debt. Student loan and other obligations are sometimes almost financially crippling. Without a premarital agreement, the non-debtor spouse could be liable for the other spouse’s debts. Additionally, if the other spouse used marital funds to pay off the debt, there may be little or no recourse.

Part of an Overall Financial Plan

If the aforementioned insurance analogy is not enough to sell a reluctant spouse on the need for a premarital agreement, it can be part of a package deal.

Emotionally, a subsequent marriage is usually a new beginning. A couple can use this spirit to begin anew in other areas as well, including their finances. Just like a premarital agreement can also settle inheritance, succession, and other testamentary matters, it can also be the centerpiece of a financial package that includes retirement accounts, college savings plans, or other such vehicles.

Reach Out to Diligent Attorneys

Premarital agreements strengthen subsequent marriages in several different ways. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.

 

 

 

Love, Divorce, Baseball, and Hutchinson Family Law Attorneys

Over the last six seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won six division titles and two National League pennants. This recent success comes on the heels of almost two decades of futility. Between 1989 and 2007, the team only had three division titles and only won one playoff game. In the midst of all this losing, things got even worse.

After about ten years of losing, fan interest began to wane and the Dodgers fell on hard financial times. Supposedly, when the team filed bankruptcy in 2002, co-owners Frank and Jamie McCourt were unable to make payroll.

What does all this have to do with Hutchinson family law attorneys? We’re just getting to that. While the team was in bankruptcy court, its owners were in divorce court. As part of their divorce, they signed a voluntary property division agreement, which is similar to a premarital agreement. Since the team was essentially worthless at the time, Jamie gave up her half of the team in exchange for about $180 million in cash and property. Jamie was very unhappy a few years later when her ex-husband sold the team for over $2 billion.

Before we see what the court decided, let’s break down premarital agreements in both Minnesota and California. The law is roughly the same in both jurisdictions.

What Can Premarital Agreements Cover?

Premarital agreements are a little like insurance policies. No one wants or expects the house to burn down, but most owners get property insurance anyway. Similarly, no couple wants or expects to get divorced, but a premarital agreement is usually a good idea, especially if one spouse has been married before.

Many premarital agreements cover financial matters. That can include both classification and division matters. Assume Wife uses a wedding gift from her parents to fix up a rental house that Husband owned before the marriage. A McLeod County judge could declare that the house was marital property. In that case, Wife could be entitled to half the gift and half all prior and future rents. These pacts may also limit, or even eliminate, spousal support payments.

Financially, premarital agreements can cover pretty much anything except child support matters. This area depends on the best interests of the children and not on the best interests of the parents.

Many spouses who have been married before want to make provisions for children from prior marriages. That’s especially true if the spouse has a family business or significant estate. That person may not want these children to be left out of succession and inheritance matters. But unless a valid premarital agreement is in place, that’s probably what will happen.

How Can Hutchinson Family Law Attorneys Break Premarital Agreements?

Minnesota family law strongly favors spousal agreements. Divorces are a good example. If the parties agree on all matters, most McLeod County judges will approve the settlement after only a cursory hearing. So, it’s very difficult for Hutchinson family law attorneys to break premarital agreements. However, these pacts are not set in stone. In Minnesota, the grounds for overturning a premarital agreement are:

  • Lack of Representation: Voluntary divorce settlements are usually valid even if only one spouse had a lawyer. But the same is not true of premarital agreements. These pacts are invalid as a matter of law if each spouse did not have separate representation.
  • Complete Disclosure: All spouses must put all their cards on the table. If a spouse withholds important information, the agreement is probably no good. Challenging spouses who use this ground must normally also establish that the information was unavailable elsewhere.
  • Unconscionable: There is a difference between “uneven” and “unconscionable.” A 60-40 split, and maybe even a 70-30 split, is uneven but not grossly one-sided. Significantly for the Jamie McCourts of the world, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. This issue comes up quite often with regard to stock options. These items may be worthless one day and incredibly valuable the next day.

Note that the challenging spouse need not establish fruadulent or malicious intent. But the presumption in favor of premarital agreements is quite strong. So, these challenges are much easier to win if a spouse has such evidence.

A Happy Ending(?) for Frank and Jamie

Jamie argued that the property agreement was unconscionable. After all, a resolution that leaves a person about $900 million short of a 50-50 split is blatantly one-sided. But the agreement was not unconscionable when it was made. “Jamie simply chose the security of a guaranteed $131 million payment, plus more than $50 million in real and personal property, over the uncertainty and risk presented by the valuation and sale of the Dodger assets,” the court stated.

So, Jamie lost her appeal and even had to pay her ex-husband’s attorneys’ fees. However, the prominent Republican fundraiser later became the U.S. Ambassador to Monaco and France. That’s not an extra $700 million and change in the bank, but it is a rather nice consolation prize.

Work with Experienced Lawyers

People who are tying the knot again should seriously consider premarital agreements. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

 

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