Marital Property Agreements, Pre-Nuptial & Post-Nuptial

Upon marriage and re-marriage, many people plan for the security of their assets and the financial future of their children. Unmarried partners often face the same issues. Our experienced family law and estate planning attorneys can guide your planning by drafting pre-marital, marital property, and other agreements designed to meet your specific needs.

In Wisconsin, the property rights of spouses are governed by the Marital Property Act, a form of community property law in which title does not necessarily determine ownership. Put simply, our law generally classifies all property of spouses as marital, or jointly owned, property (assets as well as debts). Moreover, each spouse is presumed to have an interest during marriage in the income earned by the other spouse. There may be exceptions to these rules, but they form the starting point of the legal analysis. Marital property law is premised on the notion that each spouse contributes equally to the marriage, whether those contributions are economic or noneconomic in nature.

The Marital Property Act represents a comprehensive set of default rules. However, couples are permitted to contract around the application of marital property principles. Marital property agreements serve this purpose and may be entered prior to marriage (in which case the agreement is called a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup”) or during marriage (in which case the agreement is termed a postnuptial or antenuptial agreement, or “postnup”). There are many reasons to consider a marital property agreement. For example, a couple may enter such an agreement in order to protect one spouse’s premarital assets, such as an interest in a family business, farm, or other property. So, too, a couple may opt out of the marital property law’s default provisions in order to protect one of the spouses from the other’s debts. Our attorneys can help you determine whether a marital property agreement is consistent with your goals, accounting for your financial and broader life circumstances. Whether you are considering, or are presented with, a prenup or a postnup, we can offer experienced counsel tailored to your needs.