Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How effective is a premarital agreement?

When Salt Lake City residents are preparing to engage in joyous occasions, it is often wise to protect themselves from potential consequences that could arise. For instance, individuals buying a new home will purchase insurance for the home, and engage in other measures in order to ensure their interests are protected in the event something bad happens to the home.

In many respects, a premarital agreement functions in the same way. Couples entering a marriage may want to plan for the possibility of a divorce, and what may happen to their assets in that scenario.

Last week, this blog discussed how prenuptial agreements are fairly common, particularly in high asset marriages where one or both of the spouses want to provide more protection for their personal assets. Couples can contract for any number of things in a premarital agreement, including issues involving property division and certain issues regarding the parties' rights and obligations.

Under Utah law, the premarital agreement becomes effective when the couple is married. After that point, the agreement can typically only be amended or revoked if the parties enter into a signed written agreement.

At the end of a marriage, the premarital agreement may be given effect to determine the issues the parties agreed to in the contract. However, just as with other disputes in a divorce, there can be disagreements over the validity of the premarital agreement.

For instance, one spouse might claim he or she did not voluntarily enter into the premarital agreement. In other cases, one or more provisions might be challenged on the basis of whether they are valid, as certain issues cannot be contained in the premarital agreement. Ultimately, a court will typically be called upon to resolve these disputes, along with other disputes remaining in the divorce. If there are no issues with the validity of the agreement, the court will typically enforce it and it will be effective on the issues the parties agreed upon.

Source: Utah Code, "Uniform Premarital Agreement Act," accessed on April 2, 2016

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