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Revised Colorado prenup laws


Revised Colorado prenup laws in effect July 1, 2014

Effective July 1, 2014, Colorado reenacted its Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, in part making the act applicable to civil unions.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are widely seen as a way to decide on the division of assets, and even child custody issues, before emotional issues hijack reason during a couple’s breakup.

The Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act was drafted in 1983, taking the approach that parties should be free, generally, to decide the economic terms of their marriage. However, there should be limits of due process and substantive fairness between the parties.

As of July 1, 2014, revised statutes regarding Colorado prenuptial agreements took effect in Colorado. The new law applied to prenups and postnups signed on or after July 1, 2014. However, the new law does not affect any obligation or right which arose under a prenup or postnup prior to that date. The following are some highlights of the new law.

Applicability to civil unions

Both prospective and present parties to civil unions may enter into a contract that is analogous to a prenup and/or a postnup. Also, both the provisions of statute and case law are applicable to these contracts.

Access to Independent Legal Representation

A prenup or postnup is unenforceable if a party can prove he or she did not have access to independent legal representation. The statute provides that access to legal representation exists if, prior to signing, (1) the party has a reasonable time to decide whether to retain an attorney and to locate an attorney, get the lawyer’s advice, think about the advice given and (2) the other party has a lawyer and the party either has the money to retain an attorney or the other party agrees to pay for the party’s attorney.

If one party decides to proceed without an attorney, a written waiver must be signed, containing language similar to that specified by statute, specifying dire warnings of proceeding without the advice of counsel.

Principles of Law and Equity

The new law specifically requires that the principles of equity supplement the statutes governing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Equity principles are those centuries’ old maxims, such as one must come to equity with clean hands, which allows courts to judge the basic fairness of a bargain and to allow courts to refuse relief to wrongdoers. Application of such principles come in handy when prenups and postnups are the result of sharp dealing or other inequitable practices.

Maintenance

A prenup or postnup which would otherwise be enforceable will not be enforced by the courts where it contains a provision regarding spousal maintenance or the allocation of attorney’s fees, or its waiver, and this provision would not be enforceable at the time of enforcement. The court decides the issue of enforceability as a matter of law.

Conclusion

The area of family law is a dynamic one that is constantly changing, as for example, the continuing and growing acceptance of same-sex relationships, as the recognition by the Colorado legislature of same-sex contracts analogous to prenups and postnups. If you have any issues relating to family law, including a desire to draft a prenup or postnup, contact an attorney experienced in family law matters for a resolution of your question.

Lynn Landis-Brown, P.C., represents clients in the Pikes Peak area, Front Range area, and Rocky Mountain area of Colorado, including Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Monument, Woodmoor, Broadmoor, Manitou Springs, Fort Carson, Fountain, Cimarron Hills, Black Forest, Canon City, Woodland Park, Cripple Creek, Victor, Parker, Pueblo, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station; United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Northern American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), El Paso County, Teller County, Douglas County, Adams County, Elbert County and Fremont County.