Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements are often used as a legally viable way of dividing property before a couple walks down the aisle and says "I do." Utah has validated the use of prenuptial agreements by enacting the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Unlike most other legal contracts, a prenuptial agreement does not have to involve consideration in order to be valid and enforceable.

The parties to a prenuptial agreement have the right to form a contract regarding a wide range of marital issues. The agreement can include provisions outlining how the property will be distributed in the event of a divorce, as well as spell out the rights that a party has to a specific piece of property, regardless of when or how it is acquired. A couple can even choose what law governs the creation of the agreement.

Because prenuptial agreements are so broad in nature, any provision can be added to the agreement as long as it does not violate public policy or is criminal in nature. This includes setting limits on spousal support, punishing adultery or other unwanted behavior and setting rewards for other behaviors, such as a lengthy marriage. While a prenuptial agreement is a contract between a couple, there are certain issues on which it will have no impact. These issues are usually left to the court's discretion and can include issues such as child support, medical insurance and expenses and custody determinations.

As more people look to prenuptial agreements as a solution to messy divorces, the policy and legal guidance around the agreements will continue to grow, which may not be a bad thing in a society in which more than half of marriages end in divorce.

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