50% Divorce Rate Increases Demand for Prenuptial Agreements

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With divorce rates at an all time high, Colorado divorce lawyers are seeing a dramatic increase in second marriages and the demand for prenuptial agreements.

As divorce rates have increased I have seen a dramatic change in the number of requests I get for marital agreements. The requests tend to come from those getting married for a second time.

With 50% of all marriages now ending in divorce, more and more couples, and particularly those who are planning to marry for the second time, are working together to establish Marital Agreements before their wedding. Family law attorney, Christine Nierenz with The Harris Law Firm in Denver, CO has a thriving practice that focuses on marital agreements, also called prenuptial agreements, for second marriages. Nierenz says, "As divorce rates have increased I have seen a dramatic change in the number of requests I get for marital agreements. The requests tend to come from those getting married for a second time."

Ms. Nierenz says that her experience as Colorado divorce lawyer had indicated that "While it is important for couples to be optimistic about their second marriage, it is also imperative, as it is in the formation of any legal partnership, to have a frank and honest conversation that addresses the financial concerns that may arise in the unfortunate event that the partnership fails. A well-drafted document can streamline the court case in the event that divorce is unavoidable, so it is important to create an agreement that is clear, binding, and legally sound."

The wisdom inherent in Prenuptial Agreements for second marriages comprises several areas:

Estate Planning:

When spouses with children from previous relationships remarry, a Marital Agreement can be an essential tool for estate planning. For example, you may want to ensure that a part of your estate is passed on to your prior born children, and establish your will accordingly.

In the absence of a validly executed Marital Agreement, when one of the spouses passes away, a considerable portion of the estate may pass to the surviving spouse, regardless of what is stated in the will. The reason for this is that the Colorado legislature has determined that is it unjust for a deceased spouse's estate to pass to someone other than the surviving spouse. The only way around this provision is to establish a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement that provides that property pass to someone other than the surviving spouse.

Protecting Business Interests

A Marital Agreement can also clearly designate the partners separate property vs. marital property in order to protect assets from business claims. For example: If one of the soon to be spouses own a business and does not have a Marital Agreement, it is possible for marital assets to be used to satisfy debts associated with the business. A properly drafted Marital Agreement can specify what property is separate, thus minimizing the risk that marital property could be used to satisfy business debt.

Addressing Maintenance

Many individuals going through a divorce are surprised when ordered to pay maintenance, or spousal support. Maintenance agreements can address this issue and specify if a spouse will receive maintenance, under what conditions it will be paid, the amount, and for how long. Many Marital Agreements also have a "step up" provision that determines the maintenance amount and/or the length of time it will be paid depending on the length of the marriage. While no maintenance agreement can be considered invincible to later challenges, based upon current law, a well drafted provision can reduce the possibility of having to go to court.

One of the overall benefits for a couple establishing a Marital Agreement is the clarity the agreement provides. While having an honest discussion about financial matters may not be the most romantic conversation a couple can have prior to embarking on their second marriage, clearly communicating with each other about issues regarding money, security and responsibility may actually increase the likelihood of this union being one that is both enduring and successful.

Heidi Culbertson

The Harris Law Firm

1125 17th Street

Suite 1820

Denver, CO 80202

303 299 9484


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Heidi Culbertson

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