Understanding Prenuptial Agreements In Colorado

April 28, 2021

Getting married is a big decision. Not only is it a commitment to spend the rest of your life with someone, but there are also serious legal and financial consequences to marriage. Although most couples do not like to think about what will happen in the event of a divorce, for many couples, prenuptial agreements can bring peace of mind. Generally, it is better to settle issues related to property and financial rights while the couple is amicable, rather than after a dispute has already arisen. At Johnson Law Group, we work closely with our clients to address all of the potential issues that a couple may encounter during their marriage, and make sure they plan accordingly. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, contact our Colorado family lawyers at (720) 463-4333.

What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?

While there is no one-size-fits-all prenuptial agreement, they are generally used to address financial and property issues. A prenuptial agreement is a binding contract between spouses that anticipates potential disputes and settles what will happen should the couple divorce. A post-nuptial agreement serves the same purpose as a prenuptial agreement, but the only difference is that it is entered into after the marriage.

Some of the main topics a prenuptial agreement in Colorado might cover include:

  • How property will be divided, including both premarital and marital assets
  • Who will maintain control of business interests
  • Issues related to children from previous marriages
  • Determines spousal support, also known as alimony
  • Decides how attorneys’ fees will be paid

While these are some of the more common issues, a prenuptial agreement can handle almost any topic, as long as it is not expressly prohibited by law. If there is a unique situation or asset involved in your marriage, consider speaking with a Colorado family attorney at Johnson Law Group to help draft a strong, enforceable prenuptial agreement that adequately accounts for your circumstances.

What Can a Prenuptial Agreement in Colorado Not Cover?

Some issues are legally impermissible to address in a prenuptial agreement in Colorado. Colorado passed the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, which expressly prohibits enforcement of the following terms:

  • Terms that adversely affect a child’s right to support
  • Terms that restrict remedies available to victims of domestic violence
  • Terms that modify the terms of a court-ordered legal separation or dissolution
  • Terms that penalize a party for initiating the divorce or separation
  • Terms that violate public policy

When Is a Colorado Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable?

While prenuptial agreements are very common, they can be held unenforceable if they contain certain defects. An unenforceable agreement means that, even if you and your spouse agreed upon the terms when it was initially signed, a judge cannot force either party to comply with it. An experienced attorney may be able to prevent this scenario by ensuring that the language is properly drafted and comports with Colorado law.

Some reasons why a prenuptial agreement may be held unenforceable include:

  • It is not written and signed. Under Colorado Revised Statutes 14-2-306, a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Unlike most other contracts, however, the agreement does not need to be supported by consideration.
  • A party signed the agreement under duress. Under Colorado Revised Statutes 14-2-309(a)(1), if a party signed the agreement involuntarily or under duress, the agreement will be unenforceable.
  • A party did not have access to independent legal counsel. If one of the parties was not permitted to have independent legal counsel review the agreement before signing, the agreement may be unenforceable. Whether a party has access to legal counsel is determined based on whether they had a reasonable time to decide whether to retain a lawyer, and if so, locate a lawyer and obtain the lawyer’s advice before signing the agreement. Alternatively, if the other party agrees to pay the reasonable fees and expenses of legal representation for them, they may be deemed to have had access to independent legal counsel.
  • The agreement did not explain waiver of rights in plain language. A premarital agreement often involves waiving certain marital rights. If the agreement did not contain clear and explicit language about the legal effects of signing the document, it may be unenforceable. For example, the contract should contain language informing the parties that they may be giving up their right to ownership of marital property, support from a spouse, and legal fees.
  • One party failed to disclose financial information to the other. The parties to a prenuptial agreement are entitled to adequate financial disclosure from the other party. If one party fails to provide a reasonably accurate estimate of the value of their property, the contract may be unenforceable.
  • The agreement is unconscionable. Unconscionability is a general principle of contract law. The court may choose not to enforce an agreement if the terms are so unfair that justice requires the court not to enforce it.

There is a lot that can go wrong in drafting and enforcing a prenuptial agreement, which is why it is typically advisable for both spouses to be represented by legal counsel, who may assist in negotiating, drafting, and reviewing the agreement to ensure it not only meets the needs of the parties, but also complies with all of the requirements under Colorado law. At Johnson Law Group, we have experience handling prenuptial agreements and pride ourselves on our ability to work with our clients to reach fair and equitable agreements.

Speak with a Colorado Family Lawyer

We understand that every couple has unique needs. Whether you and your fiancé will be inheriting money, buying property together, or running a business, you may wish to discuss what will happen to these important financial concerns before you get married. Call our office at (720) 463-4333 or contact us online to set up a consultation with an experienced Colorado family lawyer about your prenuptial agreement.

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