What makes a prenuptial agreement invalid?

2 minutes

A fair and well-written prenuptial agreement can help couples gain a strong picture of their finances before the marriage even begins. If, eventually, they decide to divorce, it can also make the process move more smoothly, helping avoid acrimony, preserve business interests and save on legal costs.

But not every prenuptial agreement is fair and well written. Mistakes, misrepresentation and other factors can invalidate a prenuptial agreement. How do you know if your prenuptial agreement will hold up in court?

Protections offered by a prenuptial agreement

Prenuptial agreements document individual property and debts (something that’s necessary in the event of a divorce) and plan for how marital property will be divided in a split or after one party passes away. While many couples use prenuptial agreements as a way to start married life on the same page financially, they’re especially important for:

  • High-net-worth individuals, who can protect the interests of both parties with a fair agreement
  • Individuals with kids from a previous relationship, who can leave their kids property and assets while also providing for the surviving spouse
  • Business owners, who can avoid struggles over control and assets in a divorce
  • Stay-at-home parents, who can put financial provisions in place to partly compensate for their years away from the workforce
  • Individuals expecting a large inheritance, who may choose to clarify that the inheritance will not become marital property
  • Individuals with large debts, who may protect their partner and marital property from personal or business debts

When is a prenup invalid?

While a prenuptial agreement can obviously touch on many points important to the couple, judges won’t respond well to outright unfairness or offensive and restrictive provisions (for example, unenforceable expectations placed on appearance, marital relations or marital responsibilities).

Prenuptial agreements may also become invalid if:

  • The agreement is fraudulent: Covering up debts or hiding assets may make the entire document unenforceable.
  • One party was coerced: Both parties have to enter the agreement freely in order for it to be valid. Presenting a prenup days or hours before the wedding may invalidate the document. Each spouse should be able to have his or her own counsel review the agreement before signing.
  • The agreement is unconscionable: A lopsided agreement, where one party sacrifices much of his or her marital property may lead to the court throwing out the prenup.
  • The agreement signed away the rights of future kids. Prenups cannot set terms around child support or custody.

Precise language only strengthens a prenuptial agreement, while promises about intentions—like discarding it after 10 years of marriage or the birth of children—will weaken it.

Schedule your consultation today with an Atlanta family lawyer 

If you already signed a prenuptial agreement and you believe it was unfair, you’ll want to speak with a divorce attorney. Prenuptial agreements are contracts, and they may be challenging to deviate from if they were created correctly. But a divorce attorney can help determine if there are any factors that invalidate the prenup.

The divorce attorneys at Marple Family Law have years of experience working with clients who have prenuptial agreements. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to move your divorce forward as efficiently and effectively as possible.