The popular media has given prenuptial agreements or “prenups” a historically villainous role. In truth, they are necessary documents developed to help a couple clearly differentiate the assets and debts each party is bringing into a marriage. This is especially true for those individuals with significant assets or those entering a second or subsequent marriage.
A prenuptial agreement can detail assets, property, savings, retirement accounts, real estate or a business. Additionally, many individuals will also stipulate certain debts – personal loans, medical bills, credit cards – that each partner is responsible for. While the legal document offers certain protections against unfair treatment in the event the relationship ends, there are three common ways the agreement can be broken.
- The agreement is fraudulent: Accusations of fraud can come in many forms. In terms of a prenuptial agreement, you might be able to prove that your spouse failed to make a full disclosure of assets or debts when the contract was drafted. Additionally, undervaluing assets and hiding debt can be considered fraudulent.
- The agreement was coerced, signed under duress or signed without mental capacity: Those who were under the influence of drugs or medication, or those who felt pressured to sign might have grounds to claim the prenup is invalid. These scenarios can be difficult to prove, but they are common challenges.
- The agreement contains ridiculous provisions or is too lopsided: People might become overprotective about certain aspects of their lives prior to a marriage. Additionally, it’s possible that someone felt taken advantage of in a previous relationship and will attempt to use the legal system as a defense. People will attempt to write provisions into a prenuptial agreement that include “lifestyle clauses.” Things like household chores, weight gain or sexual relations have no place in a prenup.
Other factors such as failing to sign in the presence of legal representation or failure to properly file the documents can form the cornerstone of a prenup challenge. It is wise to work with an experienced family law attorney who can provide the answers and guidance you need.