Prenuptial agreements are an effective way to protect your assets and set some useful guidelines upfront, just in case you ever decide to divorce your spouse. If you had the foresight to draft one, you deserve some congratulations, as many couples overlook them. However, you should also be aware that no legal document is ever guaranteed to hold up in court, and there may be some reasons why your carefully drafted prenup is actually considered null and void now.
Five reasons your prenuptial agreement might be invalid are:
- Underhandedness: A prenup is drafted under the pretense that all assets have been fully disclosed to each spouse. If it is discovered later that your spouse intentionally hid some assets when the prenuptial agreement was drafted, the whole thing will likely be considered unusable by the court, potentially punishing you both in the process.
- Duress: Prenuptial agreements are only worth anything if both spouses actually agree to what it says. If there is evidence that the prenup was signed while one spouse was under duress or coercion from the other, a judge won’t likely honor it. The same can be said if one of the spouses was considerably ill or addicted to drugs at the time. It all comes down to signing something while all parties have the mental capacity to understand what it says.
- Clerical errors: Did someone forget to sign along the right line? Was the prenup paperwork filed in the wrong manner or to the wrong court? Any number of serious clerical errors could void out an otherwise perfect prenuptial agreement.
- Rookie mistake: Family law courts prefer to see and uphold documents that have been reviewed by legal professionals and signed in their presence. If you didn’t have an attorney to help you with drafting your prenuptial agreement, you might be able to argue that it should be considered invalid, as you didn’t fully understand its implications when it was made. This also means that verbal prenups are not valid – get it in writing.
- Unusable provisions: What a prenuptial agreement actually says weighs heavily on whether or not it will be accepted by the court. Something that is ridiculous – “I get to keep 75% of the finances if my spouse changes their hair color” – or something that is clearly one-sided – “I get to keep the family home, family business, and the family car, but my spouse gets the TV” – will be tossed out by a judge in a second.
If you want a prenuptial agreement that you know will be legally valid, you should work with TJC • ESQ and our Rhode Island family law attorneys. Headquartered in Providence, we have been serving clients since 1989. Contact us today for all your prenup, postnup, and family law needs.