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Invalidating a prenuptial agreement

Most divorce lawyers in Sacramento and elsewhere in California will advise their clients to sign a prenuptial agreement with the caveat that the agreement should fairly reflect the parties' intentions regarding issues such as property division and spousal support. Unfortunately, people who have signed prenuptial agreements often see the agreement differently if a divorce is brewing. These people want to know if a prenuptial agreement can be invalidated. The answer is "yes," but the process is not easy.

All prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties. Oral prenuptial agreements are not enforceable. Also, the prenuptial agreement must be signed before the marriage takes place. Undue pressure by one spouse, or family or lawyers, may be grounds for invalidating a prenuptial agreement if its terms are unfair. Pressure may consist of including the prenuptial agreement with other papers which one spouse is pressured by the other spouse to sign. Likewise, presentation of a prenuptial agreement accompanied by a demand for signature without allowing adequate time to read and understand the agreement may also be grounds for invalidation.

A prenuptial agreement can also be invalidated if the spouse who is seeking to enforce the agreement made material misrepresentations of fact to induce the other spouse to sign it. Hiding assets or other pertinent facts is also grounds for invalidating a prenuptial agreement. A party who signed the agreement without advice by an independent attorney may also be able to invalidate the agreement. Finally, agreements that are "unconscionable," that is, extremely unfair to the party against whom enforcement is sought, are rarely enforced.

Anyone who is considering a divorce and who is concerned about the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement may wish to seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney. Likewise, anyone who wants to enforce a prenuptial agreement may wish to seek advice about the arguments that may be used to convince a judge to invalidate the agreement.

Source: FindLaw, "Top 10 Reasons a Premarital Agreement May be Invalid," accessed on Nov. 6, 2017

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