An antenuptial agreement or prenuptial agreement is a kind of contract that two people who are getting married might make. As more people divorce, re-marry and repeat, public pressure grew seeking a law allowing parties to designate, before marriage, how their property would be dealt with if the marriage did not last. In Connecticut, the legislature passed a statute that authorized antenuptial agreements. (Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-36a, et. seq.) The law requires that ante-nuptial agreements must be in writing and be signed by both parties. The agreement becomes effective when the parties marry, unless the agreement provides otherwise. Once the agreement is effective, only a written agreement signed by the parties can amend or revoke it.
What you can do in an Antenuptial Agreement
The law allows the parties to address how they will deal with their property in the event of either of their deaths, if they separate or are divorced, or upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of any other event. An antenuptial agreement can modify or eliminate alimony, address the treatment of the death benefit from a life insurance policy and affect the right of either party to the other's retirement plan. However, an antenuptial agreement cannot adversely affect the right of a child to support.
What defenses are there to an Antenuptial Agreement
If a party seeks to enforce an antenuptial agreement, the other party may defend by proving that they did not sign the agreement voluntarily, that the agreement was unconscionable, either when it was signed or at the time of enforcement, or that they did not receive a fair and reasonable disclosure of the other party's income, assets and liabilities. If a party asserts as a defense that the agreement is unconscionable, the judge decides whether the agreement is unconscionable as a matter of law.
A final warning
There is an inherent awkwardness in process of negotiating an antenuptial agreement, even though it seems more entered into each year. They are very serious documents that control the future rights and obligations of the spouses. By circumventing divorce procedure, the court cannot insure a fair and just dissolution of the marriage. I recommend that parties each obtain counsel and negotiate their antenuptial agreement like the important contract it is. This careful approach probably may detract from the parties' enjoyment of the marriage celebration. As a result, some people are reluctant to take issue with a proposed antenuptial agreement. This is a trap to avoid.
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