5 Factors That Might Invalidate A Prenuptial Agreement
As a general rule of thumb, prenuptial agreements tend to be fairly ironclad. Spouses that insist on signing prenuptial agreements tend to have solid reasons for doing so, and have the time, resources, and energy to see that the agreements are done right.
However, in some rare cases, there is a chance that the circumstances or particular wording of a prenuptial agreement may render the entire document invalid.
If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement in place, are considering a divorce, and want to confirm the legitimacy (or illegitimacy) of the contract, here’s what to look for:
1) Is The Agreement Fraudulent?
A prenuptial agreement requires each spouse to make full disclosure of his/her assets. In divorce, it is quite common for one or both spouses to undervalue assets or fail to disclose them at all, so these assets can’t be made part of a settlement agreement.
Unfortunately, prenups are prone to this kind of underhandedness, as well. If you can prove your spouse did not fully disclose their income or assets at the time you signed the prenup, you may have grounds to have the agreement thrown out, now that you’re getting a divorce.
2) Was The Agreement Coerced, Signed Under Duress, Or Signed Without Mental Capacity?
Coercion or duress can be extremely difficult to prove, and, as with many aspects of divorce law, different states have different standards for what it means to have been coerced into an agreement.
While extremely unlikely, it is not unheard of for a prenup to be thrown out on this basis. Similarly, if you can prove that you lacked the mental capacity to understand the agreement when you signed it (if you were under the influence of drugs, for example) this may be a sound reason to invalidate it.
3) Improperly Filed Paperwork
As with any legal contract, the enforceability of a prenup can come down to the details and “fine print”, so to speak.
Careless errors could render a prenup less than airtight. If the initial agreement was poorly drafted, it may also be invalid. It’s highly advisable to work with an experienced and competent divorce attorney when crafting the prenuptial agreement in the first place.
4) Signing Without Proper Legal Representation
Both parties to a prenup should retain separate and independent counsel. And, in fact, some states actually require that you do.
If you signed something that your fiancé or their family arranged to be drawn up for you to agree to in order to marry them, be aware that this may not be an ironclad agreement.
Signing a contract without legal representation is never a good idea, but if that’s how you signed your prenup, there may be a chance of invalidating it.
5) Are There Lopsided, Unfair, Or Just Ridiculous Provisions?
Even though divorce court judges are typically not interested in the peculiarities of individual contracts, there can be factors that raise eyebrows.
For instance, if your prenuptial agreement states no child support whatsoever will be paid in the event of a divorce, it is likely to be thrown out. Provisions in the prenup about physical attributes, frequency of sexual relations, visits by in-laws–none of those are likely not to hold up in court, either.
Always Consult A Professional
Again, and this cannot be stressed enough, always consult a reputable legal professional when going through either the prenuptial agreement creation process, or the divorce process.
If you and/or your spouse are high net worth individuals, the difference between a good prenup and a bad prenup could me a lot of money. Do your due diligence and find an attorney you trust.
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