Fighting A Prenuptial Agreement

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How Can I Fight The Enforcement Of A Prenuptial Agreement?

There are many reasons why a prenuptial agreement may be invalid or otherwise unenforceable.  Some of the most common reasons that a court may not enforce a prenuptial agreement are:

A prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties before the wedding to be valid.  Also, because their separate interests are at stake, both parties to a premarital contract should (and in some states must) be represented by their own attorneys, or the agreement will not be enforced.  Additionally, a premarital agreement may not be valid if one of the spouses was pressured by the other (or by his or her lawyer or family) to sign the agreement. 

A prospective spouse entering into a premarital agreement must be given time to review it and think it over before signing it.  Some states have statutes which require a certain number of days to read and review the agreement.  If the groom hands the contract and a pen to the bride just before she says, "I do," the agreement is probably invalid. 

Although a premarital agreement can cover just about any financial aspect of the parties' relationship, it cannot in any way modify the child support obligations that either spouse would have if the marriage should end in divorce.  Any other provisions of the agreement that violate the law, such as sexual provisions, would also be invalid.  It is possible, however, that the court would strike the illegal clauses and enforce the remainder of the agreement.

A premarital agreement is valid only if it is entered into after full disclosure by both parties -- as to their income, assets, and liabilities.  If one prospective spouse provides the other with information that is not true, the agreement is invalid.  Failing to provide pertinent information is as bad as providing false information, and it also renders a premarital agreement unenforceable.

Unconscionable contracts are generally invalid, and premarital agreements are no exception.  You can agree to give up your right to inherit from your spouse, you can sign away your right to spousal support, and you can even agree that your spouse gets all the property and you get all the bills.  But if the agreement is so grossly unfair that one party would face severe financial hardship while the other party prospered, a court is likely to find it unconscionable and refuse to enforce it.  

Should I Consult An Attorney About Fighting A Prenuptial Agreement?

If you have signed a prenuptial agreement and are now in the middle of a divorce, you should contact a lawyer immediately.  There are many reasons why a prenuptial agreement may not be enforceable, and a family law attorney can help determine what you are entitled to.  Divorce can be a difficult process, but an attorney will explain your rights and protect your interests so that you receive all that you are legally entitled to.

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Last Modified: 01-20-2011 02:32 PM PST

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