Invalidating a Prenup

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday September 13th, 2022.

Prenuptial agreements are typically created with participation from both spouses and can be very advantageous for all parties. Prenuptial agreements can occasionally be made in bad faith, with one spouse solely considering their own interests. 

What is a Prenup?

An engaged couple may enter into a prenuptial agreement or prenup before they get married. The agreement specifies each party’s assets and property. When deciding who receives what assets in the event of a divorce, the couple will consult the prenuptial agreement. 

What Makes a Prenup Invalid?

A court may invalidate the terms of an agreement if it finds that something illegal occurred during the filing or creation of the document.

Here are four reasons a judge may invalidate your prenup:

Failure to disclose assets:  One spouse’s failure to reveal the full extent of their assets prior to signing the prenuptial agreement is a frequent reason why prenuptial agreements are declared illegal. If neither spouse waives their right to review, the other must be informed of all assets and obligations for the disclosure to be deemed valid. The financial details cannot be purposely hidden, such as a prospective spouse transferring assets or giving them as gifts.

Signing without representation: Some states demand that both parties’ legal representatives be present when the agreement is signed. Without a lawyer present at the signing, the agreement can be wholly void unless one party explicitly relinquishes their right to legal counsel.

Coercion: A prenuptial agreement that was signed under duress or under the influence of a future spouse may be void. Threats or physical force used to compel someone to sign a document are referred to as duress and coercion. Duress and coercion include demanding someone sign a prenuptial agreement before they walk down the aisle and denying them the chance to evaluate the terms or obtain independent legal counsel. 

Improperly filed paperwork: A prenup should always be handled by an attorney that is well-versed in the process. A poorly drafted agreement or improperly filed paperwork can be all it takes for a judge to invalidate the document.

Please contact our office today for a consultation if you need help drafting a prenuptial agreement. 

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