A prenuptial agreement must be signed voluntarily by both parties, accurately disclose assets, avoid grossly unfair provisions, and meet other requirements to be considered legal and valid in a court of law.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that impacts how marital or non-marital assets are divided in the case of a divorce. Typically drawn up to protect the wealthier spouse in the event of a divorce down the road, the burden of proof is up to the spouse that is seeking to invalidate the prenuptial agreement. It will be his/her sole responsibility to prove that the prenuptial agreement was acquired by breaking one of the requirements mandated by state laws.
Prenuptial agreements must be signed willingly by both spouses. If either party signs under duress, coercion, or fraudulent pretenses, the agreement may be found to be invalid in court. Prenuptial agreements must be signed and notarized. Oral prenups, as well as prenups, signed a day or two before the wedding are not valid. To prevent duress and coercion, most states require each spouse to have a copy of the prenuptial agreement for a certain amount of time before signing.
A prenuptial agreement requires each spouse to fully disclose his/her assets. The agreement will only be considered valid if both spouses have accurate disclosure of their future’s spouses financial worth that includes the value of income, property, and other holdings. If one spouse files for divorce, the prenup may be found to be invalid if assets were not fully disclosed at the time the agreement was signed.
Most courts will consider prenuptial agreements with grossly unfair provisions invalid. For example, a prenup that disallows any child support to be paid to the other spouse in the event of a divorce will likely be found invalid. If divorce occurs, courts will not allow one partner to be awarded most of the financial assets, while the other partner ends up in financial hardship under the prenup provisions.
Many states require both parties to seek separate legal counsel before signing a prenup to ensure full understanding and accuracy of the document. Divorce lawyers often see prenups invalidated in court when this requirement is ignored.