A prenuptial agreement is a tool that couples can use to establish the financial rights of both partners in the unfortunate event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can protect family businesses and secure personal assets.
However, they must be done correctly to be valid in your state. For many years they were difficult to invalidate. However, in 2013, a Long Island woman won a rare battle against her ex-husband.
Their prenup was signed in 1998, four days after the wedding. When her fiance first proposed the document, she declined to sign. However, she agreed four days after they were married when her new husband promised to tear up the document after they began having children.
The New York appellate court voided the prenuptial agreement, citing a portion of it hung on a verbal promise. Following are five of the top reasons why a court may invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
When a prenuptial agreement is written, each spouse must make a full disclosure of their assets. During a divorce, it is not uncommon for one or both partners to undervalue assets or hide them, so they aren’t part of the settlement. The same can happen when a prenuptial agreement is first written.
If you can prove that your spouse did not fully disclose their assets, that failure to disclose is grounds to have the prenuptial agreement invalidated. The same is true for debt disclosure. If you discover your spouse has more debt than recorded in the agreement, it may be grounds to have the agreement invalidated.
The court may find that your prenuptial agreement is not valid if one of the spouses was pressured into signing the agreement. The spouse, lawyer, or other family members may have coerced one spouse to sign the agreement. Although this is difficult to prove, if you have a witness, it is not unheard of for the judge to invalidate the prenuptial agreement.
By the same token, if you did not have the mental capacity to understand what you were signing, this may be a reason to invalidate the agreement. For example, if your mental capacity was influenced by drugs or alcohol, the agreement may be invalidated.
The prenuptial agreement must be written and filed within the laws of the state where you live. As with any legal document, there is a very specific manner in which it must be drafted and filed in order for it to be legal. If you can prove that the prenup was improperly filed or show that it was poorly drafted, the document may be invalidated. This is why it is advisable to work with a competent and experienced divorce attorney to create, sign and file a prenuptial agreement.
No Legal Representation
A partner must have time to read and consider a premarital agreement before signing it. A court will likely hold that a prenuptial agreement signed hastily or under duress is invalid.
Both parties should have independent representation. Since there are separate interests at stake, you both need attorneys. Otherwise, the prenuptial agreement may not be enforceable.
In most cases, you can sign away your right to inheritance on your spouse’s death and spousal support if you and your partner divorce. In fact, in most cases, the judge is not typically interested in the details of the contract or in what might be considered fair. If both parties agreed when the contract was signed, it’s likely the judge will uphold it. However, a judge may invalidate an agreement if it is:
- Extremely lopsided
- Contains absurd provisions
- Causes financial hardship
For example, a judge may throw out a contract if it contains provisions for one partner to maintain a certain weight, define the frequency of sexual relations, or limit their permitted activities. Additionally, it may also be invalidated if it stipulates no child support or one party gets everything and the other gets nothing. In cases like those, the contract will likely be invalidated.
Call Hargrave Law, PC Today
If you signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married and are now facing a divorce, contact Hargrave Law, PC to discuss your case. Our experienced and compassionate legal team can help protect your rights and fight for a fair division of assets during your divorce. Call the office at 817-282-0679 or contact us online to schedule a confidential meeting with one of our attorneys.