by Sheryl A. Fernandez, Paralegal
The 2013 Colorado Legislative Session brought some big changes through Criminal and Family Law legislation. From the re-introduction of Jessica’s Law—asking for a 25 year, mandatory incarceration sentence for those convicted of sexual abuse on a child younger than 15—to the slow (and sometimes painful) implementation process surrounding Amendment 64 (legalization of marijuana), the Colorado General Assembly had their work cut out for them.
Many legislators focused on clarifying existing statutes in order to fine tune the law. This approach was reflected in House Bill 13-1204 (abbreviated as “HB13-1204”) by Representative Bob Gardner (R- Colorado Springs) and Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D- Thornton). House Bill 13-1204 makes changes to the law surrounding Premarital and Marital agreements.
The Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws recommended the adoption of HB 13-1204 because it aligns Colorado law with the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, which has been adopted in 26 other states to date according to the Uniform Law Commission.
Basically, this piece of legislation establishes new statutory guidelines (and standardizes existing ones) governing premarital and marital agreements; it also identifies what might require judicial review. This continues to clarify some key points by inserting new language:
Formation requirements: A premarital or marital agreement must be in a record signed by both parties; and, it is enforceable without consideration.
When agreement effective: A premarital agreement is effective upon marriage. A marital agreement is effective upon execution (signing by both parties).
Void marriage: If a marriage is determined to be void, a premarital or marital agreement is enforceable only to the extent necessary to avoid an inequitable result.
Enforcement: A premarital or marital agreement is unenforceable if a party was not a voluntary participant (or entered into the agreement under duress); if one party did not have access to legal representation; if the agreement did not include a notice of waiver of rights or a plain language explanation of the marital rights were modified by the waiver; or, if a party did not receive proper financial disclosures.
This law does not take effect until July 1, 2014 and does not affect any right, obligation, or liability arising under a premarital or marital agreement signed before July 1, 2014. This law easily passed out of the Colorado House with no opposition; however, it was opposed in the Colorado Senate by most of the Republican Senators.