Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
In Colorado, couples who intend to be married have the legal right to enter into contracts before or after their marriage. Such contracts are called prenuptial agreements if entered into before the marriage, or postnuptial agreements if entered into after the marriage.
These contracts can dictate how property and debts will be shared or divided as well as how spousal maintenance and attorney fees will be paid, if at all, upon the dissolution of a marriage or civil union. However, terms that attempt to limit or eliminate, spousal maintenance or attorney fees will be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny and will only be upheld if doing so would not be “unconscionable” at the time a party wishes to enforce the terms of the agreement.
A couple does not need to be wealthy to enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. There are several reasons these agreements can be valuable to a couple, including the following:
- Providing predictability regarding the financial aspects of a relationship in the event of a divorce;
- Protecting one spouse from the significant debts of another spouse before or after the marriage;
- Allowing one spouse to pass property on to children who were conceived in a former marriage;
- Keeping one spouse’s family business separate from the marital assets;
- Setting spousal support amounts ahead of time in the event a divorce becomes necessary.
What Makes a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement Enforceable in Colorado
In order for a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to be enforceable in Colorado, it must be in writing and signed by both parties. The parties must sign the agreement voluntarily and have had time to discuss the agreement with a lawyer of their choosing. The parties must have exchanged full financial disclosures regarding all of their assets and debts.
Colorado law will not allow enforcement of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements where there is proof that one party was forced or coerced into signing the agreement or kept from seeking the advice of independent legal counsel before signing the agreement. Colorado law also will not enforce an “unconscionable” agreement.
Whether an agreement is “unconscionable” is decided wholly by the court on a case-by-case basis. If a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is found to be overall unconscionable, the entire agreement could be voided. If only parts of the agreement are unconscionable, only those terms could be stricken by the court.
No illegal, immoral, or unconscionable acts may be included in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement cannot prevent a victim of domestic abuse from seeking legal remedies to end the abuse or violence, nor can it penalize a party who files for divorce or separation. Finally, Colorado courts do not allow prenuptial agreements to determine child custody or child support. This matter is left to parents or judges to review and decide at the time of the parents’ separation.
Contact Experienced Denver, Colorado, Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreement Attorneys
Poorly written prenuptial and postnuptial agreements will be worthless upon a divorce. You want to have an attorney who has experience with drafting a solid agreement that will hold up when a relationship ends.
Call Cindy Perusse at 303-228-2285 and schedule an appointment if you would like a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement drafted for a flat fee.