Maybe you had a great career already when you got married, or perhaps either you or your spouse had substantial personal assets that you hoped to protect in the event of a divorce. Now that you find yourself thinking about the end of your marriage, you may worry about whether the courts will uphold your prenuptial agreement.
Whether the document favors you over your spouse and you want the courts to enforce it or you feel like the document is unfairly skewed against you and you hope they throw it out, knowing the common reasons why family courts choose to invalidate or throw out a prenuptial agreement can help you determine how they will likely respond to yours.
The day of the one-sided prenup is long over
Decades ago, prenuptial agreements were primarily legal devices used by the very rich, famous or powerful to protect them from losing their wealth in a divorce. A prenuptial contract protected them from a spouse who could have hidden ulterior motives.
These days, the court will not take kindly to prenuptial agreements that only extend protection to one spouse. The courts want to see a balance to documents that fairly protect the interest of both parties. Barring that, the spouse who does not have protection in the documents should have received some kind of compensation at the time of signing to offset the rights they probably waived in the prenup.
Both people have to sign of their own free will and with their own attorney
Nothing skews the potential fairness of a contract faster than having it drawn up by an attorney who only represents one party while the other party does not have a lawyer to advise them. Lack of familiarity with what kinds of terms are legal and enforceable, confusion about what legal language and jargon really mean, and an inability to stand up for themselves in a legal capacity could all contribute to someone signing a dangerously unfair prenuptial agreement if they don’t have their own attorney.
Additionally, serious outside influences or pressure from the potential future spouse could compel someone to sign a document that they actually don’t want to sign. If you can show that your spouse pressured you or threatened you to get you to sign or that you were under duress, you may not have felt like you had an option.
Examples of duress include the threat of poverty due to an unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage or repercussions from a religious community to which you belong due to your relationship, especially if your spouse would not marry you unless you sign. If you can build a case for signing under duress, the courts will be more likely to consider ignoring the provisions of the prenuptial agreement.
Technical errors can also invalidate a prenup
Whenever you sign a contract, you have to date it, sign it and initial it. Even a tiny mistake with a missed initial could be enough to invalidate your prenuptial agreement. This is another reason why having an attorney on hand for the signing protects both parties because it helps them avoid silly mistakes that could leave them both vulnerable to a contested divorce and the expenses that it brings with it.