A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract spouses sign in anticipation of marriage. Colorado law governs alimony and property distribution upon a spouse’s death and in the event of divorce. With a prenuptial agreement, couples can choose to circumvent a portion of the standard rules and make their own decisions about alimony and property division.
Under the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, which Colorado adopted in 2014, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Colorado courts will not enforce oral agreements. People who want to outline how their financial responsibilities during and after marriage could benefit from attorneys who can draft prenuptial agreements. Each member of the partnership should have an attorney to advocate for their interests.
Colorado Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys
If you need help drafting, negotiating, or understanding the terms of a “prenup” agreement, it is best to seek the help of a skilled family law attorney at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. We have years of experience in family law and can ensure that you maintain your rights and goals in the marriage.
To receive a consultation from Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, call (719) 328-1616 today. We have offices in Denver and Colorado Springs but serve clients throughout the state of Colorado.
- Prenuptial Agreements in Colorado
- Reasons For Prenuptial Agreements
- Unenforceable Prenuptial Agreements
- Additional Resources
Prenuptial Agreements in Colorado
Colorado is an equitable division state. Unless a couple has a legally enforceable prenuptial agreement or settles their divorce privately, the court will divide property equitably if the couple divorces. The court decides what is fair. Factors influencing equitable division include how much each spouse contributed to the money and services spouses contributed to the marriage as homemakers and caregivers. In a prenuptial agreement, couples can decide how they want to split assets when they divorce. Rather than relying on the court’s determination of fairness, they can agree together. One of the benefits of having a prenuptial agreement in place is that it allows individuals to avoid lengthy and costly litigation upon divorce. They can also preserve the wealth of individuals who enter a marriage with significant income or assets.
Colorado law also permits the court to award alimony to one spouse, depending on the circumstances of the case. If one spouse was the primary earner while the other took care of the home, the primary earner might have to pay the homemaker alimony. Maintenance might be necessary for financial security if one spouse sacrifices their career to be a homemaker.
Prenuptial agreements can also give individuals more control over their estate plans. If one spouse dies, Colorado law also provides a framework. Even if a spouse writes a will leaving everything to children, family, or other relatives and excluding their spouses, Colorado law prevents individuals from disinheriting their spouses via wills. When included in a prenuptial agreement, spouses can elect to disinherit each other. Thus, prenuptial agreements can give spouses autonomy concerning their estate plans.
Reasons For Prenuptial Agreements
Although some people view marriage as a lifelong commitment, others are concerned about what will happen if they get divorced. Additionally, high-net-worth individuals, people with business interests, and people with children might benefit from the security of a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements also help couples communicate their financial roles and expectations in marriage, protect premarital assets from division upon divorce, and ensure that children from previous relationships receive inheritances.
Unenforceable Prenuptial Agreements
Colorado courts will uphold prenuptial agreements in many cases, as individuals have the right to contract freely. However, Colorado courts will sometimes find that a prenuptial agreement is unenforceable. If a prenuptial agreement is unenforceable, the court will disregard it and distribute assets according to equitable division.
For a prenuptial agreement to be deemed unenforceable, an individual must challenge it. Sometimes, individuals might challenge prenuptial agreements in contentious divorces.
Although courts typically uphold prenuptial agreements, they might be unenforceable in some circumstances.
- The spouse who is disputing the prenuptial agreement signed it under duress or involuntarily. If their signature was forged, for instance, the contract is invalid. Even when they signed the agreement, they might have done so under pressure or might not have known what they were signing. If one spouse gave the other a premarital agreement to sign right before the wedding, the other spouse might have felt pressure to sign it. Additionally, an agreement could be unenforceable if one spouse was verbally, physically, or mentally abusive and coerced their partner into signing the document.
- Prenuptial agreements can also be unenforceable if one spouse did not have access to legal representation when they signed it. Both spouses need to have a lawyer read over the agreement and help them negotiate to protect their rights and interests. When only one party had an attorney represent them, the other could be disadvantaged. Suppose one party could afford an attorney because their employer gave them access to legal services as a benefit, whereas the other party did not have an attorney. The advantaged party’s attorney drafted the prenuptial agreement to favor their client’s interests. With no attorney, the disadvantaged spouse had no one to protect their interests or help them understand the legal ramifications of the agreement. Wanting to please their future spouse and assuming the attorney was also helping them, they signed the agreement. In that case, the contract could be unenforceable.
- Creating a prenuptial agreement requires disclosure of all assets. If one spouse hid assets and failed to disclose them during the negotiation process, the other spouse could challenge the prenuptial agreement. Suppose one spouse had a secret account with significant funds but never told their partner. The unsuspecting partner might have thought the agreement was fair, given what was disclosed during the premarital negotiations, yet become concerned about the fairness of the agreement after finding out about the secret account. If they challenge the premarital contract, a court might find it unenforceable because of the hidden assets.
Negotiating prenuptial agreements cause discord in relationships as couples plan for their financial futures. Mediation can be a powerful tool to help couples resolve disputes about prenuptial agreements. Trained mediators can make sure that both spouses’ opinions are voiced. Working with a mediator, as well as an attorney, can be beneficial to the relationship of the parties. Mediators can also spot problems with premarital agreements and might raise concerns when a contract benefits one spouse to the detriment of the other.
The Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreement Act – The Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreement Act governs premarital agreements. They must be in writing and signed by both parties and can be unenforceable in some circumstances.
Prenuptial Agreement Template – The Colorado Court provides a Prenuptial Agreement Template, which spouses can use to outline their contracts.
Denver Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers | Denver County, CO
If you are interested in drafting a prenuptial agreement, contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. We understand how difficult it may be to draft a prenuptial agreement with your spouse without compromising the health and integrity of your marriage. With our assistance, you can trust that each individual in the marriage will have his/her needs accounted for.
To schedule a strategy session, contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC at (719) 328-1616 today. We have years of combined experience handling family law matters in Colorado Springs and around the surrounding counties of El Paso, Teller, Pueblo, Douglas, Denver, Elbert, Fremont, Pueblo, Lincoln and Arapahoe.