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What a Premarital Agreement Can and Cannot Do

If you’re getting married, you may want to consider entering into a premarital agreement with your partner. Also known as prenuptial agreements, these contracts are effective upon marriage and when done right are enforceable under Kansas law. They allow soon-to-become spouses to memorialize their wishes for deciding important issues both during the marriage and during divorce if that should occur.

Premarital agreements can do a lot to resolve potential future conflicts. In Kansas, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act specifically allows for couples to contract about the following:

  • Property rights and obligations — The agreement can delineate the couple’s respective rights with regard to property owned separately before the marriage. It can also define each spouse’s rights to property acquired during the course of the marriage, which otherwise would be subject to equitable distribution.
  • Disposition of property upon an event — The spouses can determine ahead of time what they would like to happen to their property upon a potential separation, divorce or death of one of the spouses.
  • Spousal support arrangements — The agreement may be used to modify the spouse’s rights with regard to spousal support, or eliminate the possibility that either spouse will be granted spousal support, should the marriage end.
  • Estate planning — Each spouse may commit to make a will, trust or other similar estate planning arrangement to carry out the purpose of the premarital agreement.
  • Treatment of life insurance benefits — The agreement may specify who is entitled to the death benefit from either spouse’s life insurance policy and require that the benefit be used in a certain manner.

However, there are some things a premarital agreement cannot do. It cannot control awards of child custody or child support, which are matters that a court decides based on the children’s best interests. It also cannot commit either spouse to a certain appearance or behavior. For example, a premarital agreement cannot force a spouse to maintain a certain weight, go to church services or agree to a frequency of sexual relations.

In some circumstances, a court will not enforce a premarital agreement because of legal flaws. If one or the spouses did not execute the agreement voluntarily, such as when the other spouse was in a position of power and coerced the other spouse to sign, the agreement will not be enforced. The same is true if the agreement was unconscionable when signed — for example, if one spouse did not provide the other with full financial disclosure. If you work with an experienced Kansas family law attorney, you can feel confident that your premarital agreement will be correctly drafted and executed and will be enforceable as to all of its terms.

Peggs Wheeler, LC in Wichita advises people throughout Kansas on family law matters, including premarital agreements. To schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation, please call 316-512-7853 or contact us online.