What do Postnuptial Agreements Cover?
Postnuptial agreements are a way to protect property, assets, and other holdings in the event of a divorce. While postnuptial agreements can be quite effective, it is important to understand how they work in accordance with Wisconsin laws pertaining to the division of marital property. Under Wisconsin Law, postnuptial agreements are called Marital Property Agreements (MPAs).
Wisconsin’s marital property laws
Wisconsin is one of few states following community property law, which is based on the assumption that in a divorce, all property is marital property and is to be shared equally between the two spouses. This includes income earned and property acquired during the marriage as well as property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage. The courts consider several factors to determine if the division of property should be shifted.
Because of Wisconsin’s marital property laws, when a couple divorces, many spouses lose property that they thought belonged to them and them alone. To avoid this outcome, couples often choose to draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to set forth how their property will be divided.
Postnuptial agreements are established after the couple is married. In many cases, the spouses draft a postnuptial agreement when the couple obtains a new piece of property or if one spouse receives a significant inheritance. Even though property that is inherited or gifted remains separate property, if it is determined that the property was used in any way to support the marriage, it may be considered marital property and subject to division if the couple divorces. Drafting a postnuptial agreement is a mechanism to ensure that the money remains the property of that spouse alone if the couple should divorce.
Postnuptial agreements may be used when financial disagreements or discord threaten the marriage. Settling financial matters with an agreement between spouses, often without regard to marital property laws, may help quell marital issues and settle troubles couples encounter.
Postnuptials only address property
Postnuptial agreements, like prenuptial agreements, only address property division and support between spouses (maintenance/alimony). They may not be used to arrange child custody, child support, or visitation matters in the event of a divorce. Postnuptial agreements define what is to be considered marital property throughout the course of the marriage. Couples may choose to divide personal belongings, separate a house, divide up bank accounts, or preserve retirement accounts. Both spouses must agree to the terms of a postnuptial agreement and – if the couple divorces – the property will process according to the specifics set forth in the postnuptial agreement providing the Agreement is found to be enforceable.
Ensure your postnuptial agreement is in accordance with Wisconsin laws
Wisconsin state laws supersede postnuptial agreements. For an MPA to be recognized and enforced by a divorce court, it must meet with specific and strict legal guidelines. Therefore, it is imperative that you work with an experienced Wisconsin family lawyer to develop a postnuptial agreement that is in accordance with state laws so that your property processes according to your wishes. The experienced Wisconsin divorce attorneys at Bandle & Zaeske, have more than 50 years combined experienced helping Wisconsin couples. Our team skillfully develops postnuptial agreements that meet your needs and satisfy Wisconsin community property provisions. Meet with a member of our team to discuss whether a postnuptial agreement is right for you; schedule a free consultation by contacting our office at 414-359-1424 or contact us online.