How do Postnuptial Agreements Work in Wisconsin?

A postnuptial agreement is a marital property agreement that allows a married couple to set specific terms for the the division of assets in the case of a divorce. It works much like a prenuptial agreement, except that it is put in place during the marriage rather than beforehand. A postnuptial agreement is generally accepted as equitable and enforceable upon divorce in the state.

Is a Postnup Always Enforced During a Divorce?

Wisconsin Judges will usually enforce a postnuptial agreement, but will consider overriding the agreement if there has been a significant change in circumstance that was unforeseeable at the time of agreement.

In one example case, Button v. Button 131 Wis. 2d 84, 388 N.W.2d 546 (1986), a situation occurred where the wife had fallen ill and monetary complications had also arisen. The trial court ruled to enforce the terms of the postnuptial agreement.

The wife appealed and the supreme court took jurisdiction. The supreme court reversed and remanded on the notion that while framing the agreement, it was based on foreseeable expectations during marriage, as after marriage is unforeseeable. However, what may seem fair at the time of execution, may not be fair upon divorce.

Is a Post-Nuptial Agreement a Good Idea?

Until recently, postnuptial agreements were only a good idea for a handful of Wisconsin of wealthy couples. State laws were very complex, so judicial interpretations varied greatly among different jurisdictions. Things were further complicated, if the couple moved across state lines, and the agreement could be judged as completely invalid.

Those issues have been resolved with the passage of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Instead of a tangled web of laws, there is now only one statute to follow in Wisconsin. While prior court decisions are still very important when it comes to interpretation, these decisions are not binding. Furthermore, if the couple moves to a neighboring state like Illinois or Iowa, roughly the same rules apply.


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