Are Prenuptial Agreements Unbreakable?

By Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C.Family Law Attorney

When crafted and executed correctly by an attorney, prenuptial agreements are almost always iron-clad, and used by thousands of couples who are planning their nuptials. A solid prenup is an invaluable tool for protecting pre-marital assets, including real estate holdings, private possessions acquired before the wedding and other holdings. For many couples, prenuptial agreements provide a platform for honest, open communication about not only assets, but outstanding debts and child support obligations – issues that can prove contentious if the marriage ends.

In most situations, financial issues are the most antagonistic when a marriage begins to dissolve, which is why many couples prefer to have a contract in place so there is no quarreling about assets and property entitlement. 

There are certain circumstances, however, when a prenup may not hold up in divorce court. Below are some factors that may void the validity of a prenuptial agreement.

Factors that can void a prenup 

  • Lack of legal representation – In some states, a judge can throw out a prenup if one or both parties signed the agreement without the benefit of legal representation. In California for example, each spouse is obliged to have their own attorney review the contract and advise them of their rights prior to signing.
  • Lack of full disclosure – Unless both spouses waive away their rights to full disclosure in a prenuptial agreement, this contract can be voided if one or both partners fail to list all debts and assets. The court may void a prenup if one partner conceals debts or assets from the other, which may be viewed as fraud.
  • Timing issues – Depending on which state you reside in, signing a prenup just days before your wedding can prove problematic later on. Each state and jurisdiction has their own interpretation of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act which addresses timing issues. In New York, for instance, signing a prenup 4 days before your wedding ceremony is not considered enough time. One or both partners may later say they did not have adequate time to thoroughly review and understand the terms.
  • Signing under duress – Judges are also obliged to be watchful of signs that one of the spouses signed the prenup under unfavorable terms, or was pressured because an extravagant wedding was paid for by the other. Courts can and do overturn prenuptial agreements in which one party signed under duress.
  • Unconscionable terms – If a premarital contract is obviously unfair and extremely one-sided, the court may have grounds to void it. For example, if the contract stipulates that all earnings and property acquired during your marriage is yours, with no equitable division of assets, the judge may throw out the contract based on unconscionable terms.

Experienced family lawyers

Founded in 1975, the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. was created to help residents throughout New Jersey and New York. Our dedicated Rockland and Bergen family attorneys boast more than 40 years of experience handling all facets of matrimonial law, assisting clients in the drafting and creation of legally-binding prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

We are proud to offer quality family law services at affordable rates. Schedule a confidential case review in either our Bergen or Rockland County offices by calling today.

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