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What is a prenuptial agreement and should you have one?

Do you know someone in Wisconsin who is engaged or married? Have you talked to them about a prenuptial agreement? Attorneys from Oshkosh and the Fox Valley can guide you in the right direction. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that two people negotiate and sign with a view toward what would happen if the marriage ends by divorce, separation or death. Before getting married, and even after, you should consider your legal options. It is commonly mistaken that prenuptial agreements, otherwise known as “prenups,” are only for those who are wealthy. No matter how much money or assets you have, a prenup is in fact a useful tool that can protect you and your (future) spouse.

There are many elements to be considered in a prenuptial agreement. In Wisconsin, if you and your spouse acquire property during marriage, a judge will apply statutory guidelines to divide that property in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also contain provisions about child support and custody. If a couple divorces and decides to abide by the terms of the agreement, then they can self enforce the provision on child custody and support. However, if the parties end up disagreeing, a judge will disregard the portions that refer to custody and support in the agreement. Our skilled Fox Valley and Oshkosh attorneys are here to help you.

A prenup can provide a way of avoiding lengthy or expensive legal disputes, pre-determining the division of a couple’s property, including things such as land, retirement accounts, jewelry, or automobiles. A prenuptial agreement can be applied to any couple. If one or both of you are bringing a lot of debt into the marriage, one or both of you are bringing property into the marriage, one of you is much wealthier or poorer than the other, or if one or both of you is remarrying or has children, getting a prenup is of greater importance.  Each spouse should retain his or her own attorney to review and negotiate the prenuptial agreement. You and your spouse cannot share a lawyer, or the agreement won’t be legally enforceable. It is permissible for one party to be represented by an attorney, even if the other party is not. After you are married, you can still revise a prenuptial agreement and it will be called a postnuptial agreement. Both parties have to agree to the changes, and the new agreement must be in writing.

If you have any questions about whether you should enter into a prenuptial agreement, contact a family law attorney here at Petit & Dommershausen, located in Menasha and Oshkosh, for advice. You can reach our Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.

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