In 2013, the wife of a millionaire real estate mogul was able to get her 1998 prenuptial agreement thrown out of court during divorce proceedings. The judge determined that the prenup was invalid and, therefore, anything she agreed to in the document did not apply. This meant that their marital assets were divided as if no prenuptial agreement had ever been signed.
This case set a new precedent for divorce law—one in which the validity of a prenuptial agreement is not a guarantee. So, it’s more important than ever that you are certain your prenuptial agreement is a valid one. Whether you’re hoping to get your prenup thrown out or you want to ensure your agreement is ironclad, it’s important that you’re aware of these 5 circumstances that could cause your prenuptial agreement to be considered invalid.
The first and most obvious reason a prenup would be invalidated is if the agreement were fraudulent. However, despite how it may sound, this does not refer to a “faked” prenup created by one party in the divorce. Rather, this refers to one party failing to disclose all of his or her assets at the time the prenuptial agreement was created.
If you can prove your spouse did not disclose all of his or her assets, or that they undervalued their assets at the time you signed the prenup, you may have grounds to get it thrown out of court during divorce proceedings. On the other side of the things, this reinforces the importance of disclosing all of your assets when drafting up a prenuptial agreement, if you hope to have it hold up in divorce court.
It Was Coerced
Coercion can be difficult to prove, especially when bringing up the prenup agreement after several years. Additionally, different states have different legal definitions of what it means to be coerced into signing a document. However, if you can prove you were coerced into signing your prenup, or that you were forced to sign it under duress, you could get it thrown out.
In the case mentioned earlier, the wife stated she was coerced into signing the prenup, because her husband (or fiancé, at the time) threatened to cancel their wedding if she didn’t sign it. Additionally, he promised to tear up the prenup once they had children, which he didn’t do. The judge considered this grounds to toss the agreement out during their divorce.
Similarly, if one party signed the prenup without the mental capacity to understand what they were signing (such as if they were ill or under the influence of drugs or alcohol), then the prenuptial agreement could be invalidated under those circumstances as well.
It Wasn’t Filed Properly
If your prenuptial agreement was hastily drafted and improperly filed, it could be considered invalid. As with any legal document, a prenup must be handled in a very specific manner for it to be legal. So, if you want that document to hold up in court, be sure that you cross all of your t’s and dot all of your i's, as the saying goes.
It Wasn’t Signed with Representation
You should never sign a legal document without a legal representative present. However, if this is how you signed your prenuptial agreement, there may be a chance of having it invalidated. This is not a guarantee, but it is a route to pursue if you hope to have that prenup thrown out.
On the other hand, if you’re currently drafting a prenup and want to ensure it’s ironclad, should you ever need to use it, be sure that both parties have a legal representative present when the document is signed. Otherwise, you open yourself up to the risk of invalidation.
It’s Too One-Sided
In most situations, divorce court judges don’t show much interest in what’s “fair”; so long as both parties agreed to the prenup, they will uphold it. However, if a prenuptial agreement is extremely lopsided, with one party getting everything and the other receiving nothing, it could be thrown out. Additionally, a judge may throw out a prenup if it contains absurd provisions regarding things like weight gain or limitations on a spouse’s permitted activities.
Essentially, the prenup simply has to be reasonable if it’s going to hold up in court. If it’s not, the judge may decide to disregard the document entirely.
If you signed a prenuptial agreement, but you’re hoping to have it thrown out during your divorce proceedings, contact our law firm and we’ll be happy to advise you on the matter.