How Do Prenuptial Agreements Affect Divorce Proceedings?

December 27, 2023

It may seem odd to think of the practicalities of divorce before you even reach the altar. Still, the impact of a prenuptial agreement on the divorce proceedings is significant. Prenuptial agreements, also called prenups, can both expedite and uncomplicate dividing property.

The process of dividing assets in a divorce is often long and complicated. When one spouse has extensive or complex assets, inherits family property, or has a business with multiple owners, a prenup can help the spouses untangle their finances and move on from the marriage sooner.

Prenups Can Change the Presumptions of Property Distribution

A prenup is a written agreement between people before they get married. Commonly, it lists assets like real estate and property and details how those assets will be divided in case of a breakdown of the marriage. Sometimes, prenups will provide details or amounts of spousal support. Prenups can help the parties in an uncontested divorce since both spouses have already agreed to the divorce terms.

Connecticut follows the concept of equitable distribution when a couple divorces. This relies on distributing property fairly, but not always equally, regardless of how property is titled. Equitable distribution involves more than cars and real estate; it can also include retirement accounts, business interests, and any property owned prior to the marriage or inherited during the marriage. A prenup can adjust the standard property division process and tailor asset distribution to the couple’s pre-determined wishes.

Prenups Can Help Expedite the Divorce Process

Connecticut has a mandatory waiting period for those who wish to divorce. However, it now allows spouses to waive the 90-day waiting period required if certain circumstances are present. Those circumstances include the full agreement of all issues in the divorce. A prenup can help prove that full agreement, making it faster and easier for spouses to dissolve their marriage.

Even when all elements of the divorce are not agreed to, prenups can expedite property division. Since property division includes all manners of property, it can consist of shares of businesses, like partnerships. Distribution of business shares can impact the controlling interest in a company—which can disrupt the operations of a business—harming more than just the spouses involved. A prenup can help avoid the need for accountants to determine the value and thereby incurring expensive valuation costs.

Additionally, prenuptial agreements can reduce the amount of work involved in dissolving the marriage. Some of the hardest parts of divorce may include the amount of discovery—the process of exchanging records and documents concerning assets. Prenups can cut back on the need for discovery. This can reduce the time and effort attorneys may need to expend concerning discovery or asset identification.

Unconscionable Prenups Will Not Be Enforced

Prenups can expedite divorce and marriage dissolution proceedings when they are valid. Courts in Connecticut will decline to enforce a prenup if enforcement of its terms would violate public policy. The court may set aside a prenuptial agreement when there is evidence that the prenup was unreasonable when it was written or if enforcing it at the time of the divorce would be grossly and indefensibly inequitable. This unreasonableness or unfairness is sometimes called unconscionable. A determination of unconscionably is a question of law for a court to determine. Courts may also decline to enforce a prenup when there is evidence of fraud, such as hiding assets or income.

Our Attorneys Can Help You Create, Enforce, or Set Aside a Prenup

Couples concerned about the complexity of their estates or businesses may want to speak with a lawyer to learn about their options for a prenup. Having an attorney with experience drafting prenuptial agreements can ensure that the concerns over unfairness are not present, increasing the likelihood of the prenup being enforced later.

Our team can help you with many aspects of prenuptial agreements. Whether you need help drafting or implementing them, our legal expertise can help make your experience easier. Call today to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable legal professional.

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