What is the Difference Between Premarital and Postmarital Agreements?

A premarital agreement is a contract that you enter into prior to getting legally married that will govern the terms of any future divorce. If you create a premarital agreement, you can include provisions related to non-marital property; to how marital property is to be divided; and to what spousal support obligations will exist (if any). In the event that your marriage ends, the premarital agreement will dictate the terms of a divorce settlement so there is no disagreement, litigation or dispute about the issues that your agreement addresses.

A postmarital agreement is very similar to a premarital agreement. Like a premarital agreement, your postmarital contract can dictate what happens in the event of a divorce. However, the key difference between a premarital and a postmarital agreement is the time when the contract is drafted and signed. A premarital agreement is entered into before you have legally wed and a postmarital agreement is drafted and signed after you are already married.


Creating a postmarital agreement makes sense if there are circumstances in your marriage or your financial life that cause you to need financial protection in the event of a divorce. For example, if you start a business during the course of your marriage, you may wish to create a postmarital agreement to ensure that the business will remain only yours after the marriage ends and that your spouse will not be entitled to a partial ownership share.

Regardless of why you decide to create a premarital or a postmarital agreement, both agreements are governed by Minnesota law under section 519.11 of the Minnesota Code. This Code provision sets similar requirements for premarital and postmarital agreements. For example, in order for either type of agreement to be valid and enforced at the time of divorce, both spouses must have been represented by a qualified family law attorney at the time when the agreement was drafted and signed. Furthermore, in order for the agreement to be valid, there must have been full and fair disclosure from each spouse to the other about income, assets and property.

There are also a few additional requirements that apply to a postmarital agreement under this code provision that are not applicable if a premarital contract is signed. For example, a postmarital contract can be unenforceable if either party commences a legal separation or divorce within two years of the time that the agreement is signed unless the spouse who is seeking to enforce the agreement can prove that it is fair and equitable to the other spouse.

Whether you are drafting or signing either a premarital or a postmarital agreement, it is important to have a qualified Minnesota family law attorney representing your interests and helping to protect your rights.

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