Challenging a prenuptial agreement

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Any agreement between two parties can be contested at any time, and pre-marital agreements are no exception. Pre-marital agreements or pre-nuptial agreements specify how financial assets, money, and property will be divided in the event of a divorce. Sometimes the specific amounts can be adjusted and sometimes the entire agreement can be invalidated.

How can the validity of pre-marital agreements be contested?

Valid pre-nuptial agreements require the following:

  • Pre-nuptial agreements usually require full disclosure of income and assets of both parties in order to be valid. Some states allow a waiver of full disclosure, but the party that waives that right must do so knowingly.
  • Valid pre-marital agreements must be made in writing and signed by both parties.
  • A pre-marital agreement must be reasonable. If it is not, it may be viewed as an unconscionable agreement and no court will uphold it.
  • Each party must have time to review the contract and obtain legal counsel prior to signing it.  

How does the law uphold or invalidate pre-marital agreements?

Contract law rules will generally apply to determine the validity of the agreement at its creation.

  • If any of the above requirements were not met, the pre-marital agreement can be invalidated and will not be upheld by a court.
  • A pre-nuptial agreement can also be contested if party was forced to sign it under duress.
  • If one party misrepresented the contract, or if one party was intoxicated, taking certain drugs, was ill, or lacked mental capacity in another way at the time of signing, the contract may also not be valid.

Generally, the person who wishes to have the agreement declared invalid will have the burden of proving that there was a problem in its formation.

If you wish to contest a pre-marital agreement, you will need to get legal help. An attorney can assist you in gathering the evidence you need in order to convince the court to throw out the original document.

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