Matrimonial attorneys will be the first people to stress the importance of a prenuptial agreement. These agreements are extremely beneficial; as they will help you protect your property and finances in the off chance that your marriage ends in divorce. However, if the prenupt is drafted or executed incorrectly, a judge may rule that it is invalid and its contents will not hold up in a divorce proceeding.
High net worth divorces can become even more complicated if the couple's prenuptial agreement has been deemed invalid by the courts. Because the financial stakes are high, it is important to make sure that the prenuptial agreement is drafted and executed properly. For this to happen, it is imperative that both parties are represented by independent legal counsel. This means that each person must retain a different attorney.
Other reasons why a prenuptial agreement can potentially be deemed invalid include:
A party signed under duress or too soon before the wedding.
Both parties must be of a clear mind when signing the agreement, and they cannot be pressured or bullied into doing so. Additionally, a prenupt can be thrown out by the courts if it is signed too close to the wedding date. It is generally recommended that couples both sign the agreement a few months before they marry.
The prenupt has questionable wording, or is not in writing.
As with any legal document, the language contained within it must be clear and not open to interpretation. The courts require that the prenupt must be in writing, and not an oral agreement. A qualified matrimonial attorney will be able to draft a prenuptial agreement that meets courts standards.
The agreement contains strange or unusual requirements.
Usually, prenuptial agreements will outline what is acceptable or expected during a marriage (no adultery, no investing marital funds without consent from the other spouse, etc.), as well as the division of assets if the marriage should end in divorce. However, a trend among the soon-to-be wed are lifestyle clauses that outline non-typical marriage requirements such as health issues and physical appearances. Judges tend to see these provisions as not being legally binding, and will often deem them to be invalid.
The prenupt is considered to be "unconscionable".
A prenuptial agreement is considered unconscionable when it blatantly favors one party over the other. It is not uncommon for an agreement to protect one person slightly more than it does the other, however, it cannot do so to the extent that the agreement is shocking. For instance, courts could rule that the agreement is invalid and unconscionable if it requires one party to be a stay at home parent and not have any of their own income, yet it denies said party from having any spousal support if the marriage dissolves.
The prenupt was signed under false promises.
On some occasions, one spouse will convince their fiancé to sign a prenuptial agreement under false promises. Such promises can include: being told they would receive a gift or money in return for agreeing to execute the prenupt, or that the agreement would become null and void if a certain event were to happen. An example of the latter can be seen in the Peter and Elizabeth Petrakis divorce. The millionaire promised his bride that their prenuptial agreement would be torn up once their first child was born. This never happened, and a judge ruled that Mrs. Petrakis had signed the agreement under the pretense of fraud, and it was ruled to be invalid.
Either spouse did not fully disclose information.
Both spouses must always practice full disclosure while participating in a prenuptial agreement. This means that all assets (investment and savings account, expensive jewelry, property) and debts must be included in the prenupt. If not, the agreement will be invalidated.
Deciding to sign a prenupt before a marriage is smart and responsible, and should be handled delicately. A skilled matrimonial attorney will have the knowledge required to write an iron-clad and legally binding agreement that meets the court's standards. The law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates has many prenupt clients, and has the experience and expertise to draft a favorable agreement on their behalf. For more information, contact the friendly staff to schedule your consultation today!