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Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Wisconsin is one of a small minority of states in the U.S. which has adopted a form of community or marital property. The Wisconsin Uniform Marital Property Act has significant and wide-ranging effects.  Among other things, it establishes a system of classification which is used to determine ownership of property and responsibility for debts as between spouses. Any married couple who establishes residence in this state is subject to the Marital Property Act unless they "opt-out" of the Act by way of a properly drafted and executed Marital Property Agreement.

The provisions of the Marital Property Act (and their resulting legal effects) may be perfectly acceptable to some married couples. For a variety of different reasons, however, for many others they are not.  Fortunately, a couple who is contemplating marriage also has the ability to change many of these default rules to better reflect their wishes and define the understanding they have regarding how their marriage will affect their legal rights. The law favors such agreements since a couple can much better define how they want to relate to each other than any court could do. In order to be valid, however, such agreements must meet tests of both substantive and procedural fairness.

If a couple wants to reach a pre-nuptial or pre-marital agreement prior to marriage, it is best for both to obtain separate legal counsel and to provide plenty of lead time in which to complete that prior to the wedding date.