For those about to enter a marriage, a prenuptial agreement can be a valuable way for couples to establish and protect their financial rights in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can protect a family business or personal assets that you owned prior to the marriage.
However, for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must be done in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, many individuals make mistakes while drafting or discussing this important document, which renders it invalid.
Here are some of the reasons why a prenuptial agreement might not be valid:
1. It was an oral agreement: Prenuptial agreements are legal documents and must be put in writing for them to be enforceable. Simply discussing the terms with your future spouse is not enough.
2. The agreement was not executed properly: For a prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must be signed by both parties before the wedding.
3. One party was pressured into the agreement: If a spouse was pressured into consenting to the premarital agreement, whether it was by an attorney, family member, or future spouse, the agreement will be invalid. He or she might have even felt threatened by embarrassment if the wedding were called off due to a disagreement over the terms.
4. The agreement was not read: If a potential spouse deceptively delivered a prenuptial agreement to his or her partner by hiding it within a stack of paperwork that required signatures, such as a wedding license, and he or she did not read it, it might not be enforceable.
5. There was no time for consideration: A fiancé cannot hand over a contract and a pen to his or her partner right before they are about to say, “I do,” and expect it to be a valid agreement. A prospective spouse must be given adequate time to review it and think it over before signing it.
6. Invalid provisions were included: Prenuptial agreements cover nearly all financial aspects of a couple’s relationship, but there are some provisions that remain off-limits and cannot be included. Child support obligations, for example, cannot be addressed in this legal document. Doing so would be a violation of the law and likely cause the court to throw out the document in its entirety. In some cases, it is possible for the illegal clauses to be struck out and for the remainder of the agreement to be enforced.
7. The agreement contains false information: Prenuptial agreements are only valid if it is entered into with the full disclosure of both parties, including their income, assets, and liabilities. If one were to provide the other with information that is false, the agreement would be considered invalid.
8. The agreement is missing information: Omitting information is just as detrimental to a prenuptial agreement as providing false information. If a spouse leaves out pertinent information, it is likely the document will not be enforced.
9. Lack of independent counsel: The process of drafting a prenuptial agreement involves the protection of separate interests and, as such, many states are quite wary of agreements made in which both sides did not have access to counsel. In fact, in some states, it is even required by law for a separate attorney to review the agreement for each side.
10. Unconscionability: It is possible for a future spouse to give up several rights in a prenuptial agreement, such as the right to inherit from a spouse, the right to spousal support, and even the right to marital assets. That said, if an agreement is so grossly unfair that it would result in the financial ruin and suffering of one party while the other prospered, the court is unlikely to enforce it.
Fresno Family Law Attorneys Helping Clients Protect Their Rights
Getting a prenuptial agreement might not be the most romantic thing a couple can do together, but it is an essential part of preparing for a successful marriage. When a couple takes the proper steps to create this agreement, they also develop a greater understanding of each other’s needs and expectations - which can contribute to a more solid foundation for a marriage.
At Arnold Law Group, APC, our family law attorneys in Fresno are experienced in drafting, reviewing, and helping enforce prenuptial agreements for our clients. Using our in-depth knowledge of family law, we will be able to guide you through important issues you might face during and after the marriage.
Get started today and contact us at (559) 600-1263 to schedule a consultation.