More and more, couples throughout Colorado are opting to sign marital agreements. Based in Denver since 1993, Karin Johnson Chatfield LLC has helped many individuals protect their financial assets and plan for the future through prenuptial and postnuptial contracts. With individualized attention and a focus on practical solutions, I advise people on how to safeguard their long-term interests. By recognizing the reality of divorce and establishing a preemptive strategy to use in the event that a marriage ends, couples may avoid a worst-case-scenario situation in the future.
Whether you are planning your marriage or already wed, a marital arrangement can be very useful. A prenuptial agreement (“prenup”) or postnuptial agreement (“postnup”) can mean the difference between knowing that your interests are protected and stressing over uncertainties, including a possible future legal battle.
A few of the many topics these agreements can cover include:
No one ever says “I do” with the expectation that they will divorce, but people and events change over time, and sometimes those changes lead to the breakup of a marriage. Striving to be fair and reasonable when you and your partner have each other’s best interests at heart may help you prevent a tense and emotionally draining court battle later on. Asking the tough questions now may provide for an easier future, both emotionally and financially. Marital agreements can even strengthen your relationship and keep struggles over money out of the picture.
For a prenuptial agreement to be valid in Colorado, it must be in writing and entered into voluntarily by both parties. A fair and reasonable disclosure of assets and liabilities must have occurred, so that each partner has a clear understanding of the other partner’s financial situation going into the marriage. The contract cannot include terms that violate any laws or public policy or that are otherwise unconscionable. If a judge reviews the agreement and determines that its terms are particularly unfair to one spouse, the judge may toss it out.
A prenuptial agreement should be unique to the couple who signs it, so the terms for your agreement should be specific to your current concerns and your plans for the years to come. Couples who have a significant difference in family wealth, projected career earnings or debt may decide to sign a prenuptial agreement to safeguard each partner’s finances. A prenup can also be helpful when one soon-to-be-spouse already has children with a former partner. The agreement can declare that if the spouse with children passes away, his or her separate property will be passed to the children rather than to the other spouse.
The Colorado Marital Agreement Act does not require that a lawyer prepare an agreement to ensure its validity, but handling this issue with the guidance of a knowledgeable Denver family law attorney may prevent mistakes that could jeopardize your future. Each spouse should have their own attorney review the document before it is signed, to establish that both partners understand the terms and agree to them.
A postnuptial agreement can cover all the same issues as a prenuptial agreement and must adhere to the same legal standards, but a postnuptial agreement is signed after a couple is wed.
You may want a postnuptial agreement if you and your spouse change your minds about your plans for the future, or you experience a significant shift in income or circumstances. Some couples simply don’t consider signing a marital agreement early on and decide to act after receiving advice from a friend, loved one or financial professional.
A valid postnuptial agreement cannot be created after divorce proceedings are initiated. A court may also find a postnuptial agreement unenforceable for other reasons. It is wise to have a lawyer guide you through the creation of a prenup or postnup so you can have confidence in the future, whatever it holds.
At Karin Johnson Chatfield LLC in Denver, I help Colorado couples create prenuptial and postnuptial agreements tailored to their specific goals. To schedule a free initial consultation, call my office at 720-386-5511 or contact me online.