Getting married is always a joyous and celebratory time in a couple’s new life together. However, as you’re likely already aware, there are many significant legal and financial plans and preparations which must be arranged during this time of change. One of the most important components of the planning process is the creation of a prenuptial agreement or “prenup,” which acts like a contract between spouses in the event of a future divorce.
While prenups are useful and desirable for many couples, drafting them is not a simple matter. In order to be considered valid and enforceable, premarital agreements must comply with Utah’s many laws and regulations, which are not always easy to navigate or apply. You have so much to think about and prepare for in the exciting times ahead of you — let an experienced attorney help take care of your contract so that you can focus on your big day.
To arrange for a confidential legal consultation free of charge, call family law attorney Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913 today.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements — which are also called prenups, antenuptial agreements, or premarital agreements — are contracts between marrying couples. Generally speaking, these contracts itemize each spouse’s debts, assets, and properties, and delineate the terms of how those items will be divided in the event of a future divorce. Under the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, Utah law defines a prenup as “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.”
Because prenups can be interpreted as implying a potential for separation in the future, some couples are very opposed to creating them for emotional reasons. This hesitance is understandable; but while premarital agreements may not be the most romantic aspect of a marriage, they can be tremendously useful practical tools to protect valuable assets and help reduce conflict and confusion should anything go wrong later down the road.
What Do ‘Prenups’ Cover?
Some people prefer to avoid prenups for emotional reasons, while others simply feel they are not financially necessary. But you might be surprised at just how useful and comprehensive a premarital agreement can be. In accordance with Section 30-8-4 of the State Legislature, Utah prenups may cover all of the following content:
- Each spouse’s rights and obligations regarding property, “whenever and wherever acquired or located.” Utah’s legal definition of property is expansive, and includes real property, personal property, income, and earnings.
- Each spouse’s right to “buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property.”
- How property disposition (transfer) will be handled in the event of death, divorce, or other occurrences.
- How spousal support (alimony) may be modified or terminated.
- How life insurance policy benefits will be transferred and owned upon death.
- Anything else you’d like to include, provided it does not break any laws or violate any public policies.
Prenups do not cover issues pertaining to children, such as child support or health insurance. In order to be enforceable, a contract must be in writing, and must be signed by each spouse. The contract takes effect upon marriage. If the marriage ends, the contract may be revoked or modified only if each party signs a formal written agreement.
Why You Should Have a Prenup
It’s a common misconception that only very wealthy people should have prenups. In reality, they can provide beneficial clarity for everyone, regardless of what you may or may not own. That being said, there are certain people for whom a prenup may be particularly important, including:
- Business owners.
- People receiving inheritances.
- Stockholders and people with retirement funds.
- Caregivers of ill or elderly relatives.
Is Your Prenup Enforceable in Utah?
Like any contract, your prenup must meet certain standards in order to be considered valid. Pursuant to Section 30-8-6, your contract will not be enforceable if:
- It was not created voluntarily.
- It involves an element of fraud or deception. (Whether an agreement is truly fraudulent will be decided by the courts.)
- It modifies or revokes alimony to the extent that the recipient spouse becomes eligible for public assistance, at which point the courts may rule that the payor spouse must furnish the recipient with sufficient support to remove that eligibility.
Creating and assembling a strong and valid prenup can be a difficult task, but an experienced family law lawyer can help.