Simple mistakes can invalidate prenuptial agreements

By |2022-04-06T18:58:14+00:0015 Nov 2013|Categories: Prenuptial Agreements, Property Rights|

Simple mistakes can invalidate prenuptial agreements

In theory and often in practice, a prenuptial agreement provides some protection to a spouse in the event the marriage fails. Ideally, these agreements clarify property rights and responsibilities and establish ongoing financial security for both spouses. For those reasons, many California spouses who have prenuptial agreements sleep a little easier even if divorce seems to be on the horizon.

Unfortunately, just a few simple mistakes can render a supposedly iron-clad prenuptial agreement invalid and lead to an unexpected dispute.

For one, both coercion by one party and terms that are only favorable to one party will likely nullify a prenuptial agreement. For example, if a prenuptial agreement favoring one party is enforced and forces the other party to rely on state welfare following divorce, a court may decide not to enforce the agreement even if it is otherwise valid.

A prenuptial agreement that was signed just days or weeks before the wedding also may not be considered valid, because a spouse can argue that it was signed by coercion. Preferably, a prenuptial agreement should be signed no later than 1 to 3 months before the wedding date.

And just as in property division during a divorce, full disclosure of all assets is critical. If one or both parties do not completely reveal all assets, a court can invalidate an agreement and force property and asset division to be re-negotiated.

Specific provisions about child custody and child support, provisions that are unconscionable (such as leaving one spouse with no assets but substantial debt) or unenforceable are also likely to invalidate a prenuptial agreement.

Although it may seem obvious, a prenuptial agreement should be in writing. The details in a prenuptial agreement should be clear, understandable and mutually agreed upon by both parties. Finally, the agreement should probably be drafted with the assistance of the legal representatives of both parties so as to ensure that both parties voluntarily agree to it.

Source: Huffington Post, “10 common prenup pitfalls,” David Centeno, Nov. 4, 2013

About the Author:

Dorie Anne Rogers - The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
Dorie A. Rogers, a Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California, has been an attorney since 1981 with an exclusive family law practice located in Orange County. She is accepting dissolution cases with support and property issues including the use of forensics to ascertain business value, community interests and to establish monthly case flow analysis. Ms. Rogers has substantial experience in high conflict custody litigation involving sophisticated psychological issues. She drafts premarital and postmarital agreement designed to define and establish parties' separate and community property interests. Paternity cases and domestic violence matters are considered part of her practice. Ms. Rogers is a court-approved and court-appointed to represent minor children.Ms. Rogers consults with individuals concerned about entering or exiting a relationship. She advises effective strategies for dissolution or premarital planning. Knowledge is power and good planning affords better results.Specialties: Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California
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