Hundreds if not thousands of couples sign prenuptial agreements every day. Contrary to popular belief, “prenups” aren’t just for the wealthy, and can benefit couples from all types of financial backgrounds. But what if you’ve already gotten married? Are you out of luck, or is there still time to sign a marriage contract after the wedding? Utah prenuptial agreements attorney Darwin Overson explains the legal options.
What’s the Difference Between Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in Utah?
You cannot sign a prenuptial agreement once you’ve already gotten married. But don’t worry — you can sign something called a postnuptial agreement instead.
Like the name implies, postnuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial or premarital agreements, with the most obvious difference being that postnuptials are signed after you’re married, instead of before the wedding takes place.
However, postnuptials generally offer less robust asset protection than their prenuptial counterparts. Postnuptial agreements also tend to be more difficult to enforce, largely on the basis that married couples have a mutual fiduciary duty to help care for one another.
In order for postnuptial (or prenuptial) agreements to be considered legally valid, they must be willingly signed by both parties. If the court determines that you or your spouse was coerced into signing, the agreement will be considered unenforceable under Utah Uniform Premarital Agreement Act §30-8-6(1)(a).
Agreements can also be deemed unenforceable if their alimony provisions place extreme financial strain on either party. Under §30-8-6(2), if there’s a clause in your post- or prenup that lets you modify or terminate alimony to the extent where either party ends up qualifying for public assistance like welfare, then the court may order you to change the provision.
Needless to say, pre- or postnuptial agreements that are found to contain fraudulent information may also be deemed unenforceable.
Reasons to Sign a Prenup (or Postnup) in Utah
Signing a pre- or postnuptial agreement is a little like going to the dentist: most people are nervous about doing it, but it can actually help save you lots of trouble and expense in the future, despite its negative reputation.
Some people hesitate to consider prenuptial agreements because they think it sets a pessimistic tone for the marriage and implies an expectation of divorce. Some couples prefer to preserve the romance of going without a pre- or postnup, while others decide the practical benefits outweigh the possible psychological downsides.
Others have a misconception that agreeing to a prenup will cause them to lose more of their property in the event of divorce, when in fact the opposite is generally true as post- and prenups are meant to protect property against unanticipated redistribution.
Other people avoid post- and prenups because they simply don’t think they’re “rich enough” to need one, while in reality, people of all income levels stand to benefit. Prenups and postnups are not about how much money you make — they’re about organizing a plan for how to treat your assets, regardless of how many or few you may have.
At the end of the day, it’s a deeply personal decision which every couple must ultimately make for themselves. However, there are some very good reasons for signing a post- or prenup which you should take a moment to consider if you haven’t already. These types of agreements can be used to determine:
- Each spouse’s rights and responsibilities with regard to property, such as the right to sell or lease.
- How property should be divided if you and your spouse decide to dissolve your marriage.
- Plans for how alimony payments should be handled, including provisions for modifying or terminating spousal support.
- What should be done regarding life insurance benefits in the event of you or your spouse’s passing.
- How to handle any miscellaneous financial issues that might apply to your family, such as care of an elderly relative, or how to divide a shared business in the event of divorce. Under §30-8-4(1)(g), the Premarital Act says that couples are free to include “any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, [as long as they are] not in violation of public policy” or any laws. The only matters which can’t be included are child support plans, health and medical expenses, and child care coverage.
If you and your spouse live in Utah and need help deciding whether a pre- or postnuptial agreement is right for you, West Valley City prenup lawyer Darwin Overson can give you free legal advice and walk you through the process. To start discussing your situation in a confidential, no-cost case evaluation, call Darwin right away at (801) 758-2287.