How do Prenuptial Agreements Work in Wisconsin?

Common stipulations within a prenuptial agreement in Wisconsin include the following:

  • Who will manage both parties' property
  • The arrangement for a will or trust in the event that one or both parties pass away
  • The ability for the surviving spouse to amend the property rights as he or she sees fit in the event of his or her death (ex. distribute property on to children)
  • Specify how to divide property in the event of a divorce.


Is a Prenup right for You?

Although prenuptial agreements were initially shunned in courts due to the mistaken belief that they promoted the option of divorce, in 1983, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) was created.

Wisconsin is one of many states that fell under the umbrella of this law. However, each state's laws may differ, including Wisconsin's right to revise a prenuptial agreement at a later date (known as a postnuptial agreement) and the inability to permanently dictate the amount of child support or child custody terms that a couple can have should they choose to divorce.

Wisconsin is one of nine states (along with Puerto Rico) in which courts typically divide property 50/50 (i.e., community property laws) instead of by equitable distribution (the judge decides what is “fair”).
Community property may also include:

  • Earned wages
  • Furniture and home purchases
  • Business investment interests
  • Business operation interests
  • Mortgages on a family home
  • Property owned before marriage
  • Gifts or inheritances from loved ones or friends prior to marriage
  • Separate bank accounts

Prenups are business, not personal

Wisconsin courts will frown upon adding personal decisions on prenups. The goal is to make sure both parties are on the same terms when it comes to finances.

For example, instead of documenting household chores or everyday obligations, include financially dependent decisions, such as which spouse will put the other through school. Instead of specifying religious preferences or how and where to spend holidays, specify who pays household bills and expenses. Instead of child-rearing choices, detail college savings instructions. Make sure the prenuptial agreement is business, never personal.

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