Couples who created a prenuptial agreement before marriage often have an easier time navigating divorce. A strong agreement can help avoid many of the conflicts that prolong divorce and can save couples time and resources as they separate their lives and plan their next steps. However, a prenuptial agreement with errors or legal weaknesses may not stand up to scrutiny by a court, which may lead to more complications in the long run.
If you have a prenuptial agreement and believe that your marriage is headed for divorce, you are wise to examine your agreement carefully before attempting to enforce it. If the agreement does not have errors or legal weaknesses, it is probably a good foundation for building your divorce strategy. On the other hand, if you find any issues with the document, understanding these problems also helps you build a strong strategy, keeping your rights and priorities protected throughout the divorce.
Technical errors in a prenuptial agreement
Creating a legally sound prenuptial agreement requires both parties to participate in the process of creating the document and to provide complete and accurate information. Many small errors can weaken an agreement, such as:
- One spouse did not read the agreement before signing
- One or both spouses failed to provide complete, accurate information (especially financial disclosures)
- The agreement was not signed before the marriage
- The agreement was not signed with proper witnesses
- The agreement is not in writing
If your agreement contains any of these errors, it is wise to review the document using strong legal resources and guidance, to identify the legal tools and strategies you can use to keep yourself secure.
Indications of a fraudulent agreement
As long as both parties follow the legal guidelines for creating their prenuptial agreement, they may include many different terms, some of which may not appear fair to an outside observer. However, simply putting terms within the agreement and signing it does not make them legal. Courts may choose to toss out some or all of an agreement if it includes evidence of fraudulent creation, such as:
- One spouse was not given proper time to review the document
- One spouse did not review the document with independent legal counsel
- One spouse signed the agreement under pressure from the other spouse or some other party
- The agreement leaves one party in a grossly disproportionate hardship
It is also important to note that courts typically do not honor agreements involving child custody or child support. While courts prefer for parents to create their own custody and support plans, courts still retain the power to approve or disapprove of these plans. Courts typically toss out prenuptial agreements that include child custody or support provisions, or at least strike the portions of the agreement that deal with these issues.
Your divorce does not have to be long, painful battle, and a strong prenuptial agreement can help streamline the process to protect all parties involved. However you choose to move forward, make sure to carefully consider all of the issues at hand and use high-quality legal resources to keep your rights protected during this difficult season.