If you signed a prenuptial agreement before your wedding, you may well be entering a divorce with a false sense of security.
This situation could happen if your prenup involves factors that invalidate parts or all of it. Knowing these could help you anticipate potential challenges and avoid unfortunate surprises during an already stressful time.
EVIDENCE OF COERCION
Under California law, all contracts, including prenuptial agreements, must be signed by parties voluntarily. Thus, if evidence shows that someone forced, coerced or manipulated a person into signing, the contract can be invalid.
Coercion is not always as apparent as people might expect. For instance, delivering a prenup to a person just days before a wedding could be coercive, as a person can feel forced to sign it to avoid canceling the wedding.
If one party left out or misrepresented financial details in the agreement, courts could set it aside, as the contracts must be accurate with regard to financial information.
Some examples might include undervaluing property or leaving out investments. Failing to disclose financial obligations fully could also make an agreement unenforceable.
GROSSLY UNFAIR TERMS
A prenup need not be exactly fair to both parties, but if there are terms that make it so unfair that the contract suggests unconscionability, it may be invalid.
Grossly unfair or oppressive terms could suggest that someone lied, threatened or manipulated a party into signing a contract. Thus, the courts may refuse to enforce the agreement.
LACK OF ADEQUATE COUNSEL
Both parties should have the time and opportunity to review a prenuptial agreement with an attorney before signing. And partners should have their own attorneys, rather than using the same one.
If parties do not seek independent legal counsel, there could be grounds to contest the agreement’s validity when the time comes to enforce it.
SO, WHAT IF I DOUBT THE VALIDITY OF OUR AGREEMENT?
If you are worried that one or more of these elements could make your agreement invalid, you still have options.
If you are not divorcing, you can amend your agreement or create a postmarital agreement that corrects any oversights or errors. If you are in the process of ending your marriage, you can still negotiate a fair settlement with the help of your attorney.