What Makes a Prenup Invalid?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract, and like any contract, it can be enforced by the courts — assuming it was entered in good faith by both parties and doesn’t violate state or federal law.
However, a court may deem a prenup invalid for any of the following reasons:
The Prenup Was Improperly Executed
Contract law requires that all parties in a contract understand the terms and are mentally capable of agreeing to them.
A prenup has been improperly executed if:
- There is no written copy that the courts can enforce
- At least one party never signed the agreement
- At least one party never had a chance to review the agreement
- Any of the parties didn’t have the mental capacity to agree to the terms at the moment they signed
The last two points are difficult to prove, but if a judge believes you didn’t understand what you agreed to, the prenup can be invalidated.
The Prenup Violates the Law
While contracts can cover almost any topic, there are limits. In marital law, these limits usually revolve around child support. Most states have strict laws requiring both parents to support their children, regardless of any contractual agreements. Similarly, a court can overrule custody agreements if it deems it necessary.
There may also be other laws that a prenup could infringe upon, so you should consult with your attorney to ensure that your prenuptial agreement doesn’t violate any state or federal laws.
The Prenup Involves Fraud
When you get married, you typically combine your assets and obligations with those of your partner. If your partner has lied about any of those, you could be in a much different financial situation than you expected, which could affect a prenup.
For example, if you both agreed to pay off all debts before marriage (believing that the other party had no debts when entering the marriage), a lie could cost you thousands or millions of dollars. This deceit would usually be enough to get a judge to invalidate that part of the prenup.
The Prenup Has Unconscionable Clauses
While contract law allows you to agree to almost anything, there are exceptions — even when the contract doesn’t violate the law. Some prenups are considered so unconscionable that a judge may doubt that anyone would ever agree to such a deal unless they were under duress.
There isn’t a specific list of terms that make a prenup unconscionable, but typically this includes any agreement that leaves one party all but penniless or in legal peril. Such disparity is often evidence enough that the contract wasn’t agreed to equally by both parties.
At Least One Party Wasn’t Represented by an Attorney
Like any legal document, a prenup should be written and reviewed by lawyers. If it isn’t, it’s difficult for the prenup to hold up in court.
Be Informed About Your Prenup
If you want to be certain that your prenup is valid, you should contact the marital lawyers at Gucciardo Law Firm, PLLC.
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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.