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Can prenuptial agreements be considered invalid?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2019 | Divorce

Massachusetts couples sign prenuptial agreements in the hopes of guarding their assets in the event their marriages do not survive. Prenuptial provisions can also resolve many questions in advance of a divorce so that the divorce process is not prolonged and disagreements can be avoided. Still, Forbes points out prenuptial agreements are not invulnerable to challenge. If a prenuptial agreement is not composed correctly, it could be ruled invalid.

Courts are going to be watchful for prenups that contain unfair provisions. A spouse cannot use a prenup to disadvantage a partner to such an extent that it leaves the other spouse financially destitute. This is likely to be considered an unconscionable provision. A prenuptial agreement is also not a way for one spouse to dump all of the child support responsibilities on the other. State law and public policy retains authority over child support and will not tolerate efforts by one spouse to escape responsibility.

Courts are also going to scrutinize how well the spouses were informed about an agreement prior to signing it. Some spouses may not have had legal representation on hand to help protect their interests, or they may not have read the document under assurances that the document was fair. And if a prenuptial agreement was signed under duress, it is very likely to be thrown out by a judge.

Deception is another factor. Prenuptial agreements should be made in good faith with all necessary information revealed by each spouse. A dishonest spouse, however, may conceal important financial information, such as assets and liabilities, from the agreement. If a lack of transparency is discovered, a court may conclude that the innocent spouse was tricked into signing the agreement and rule the compact invalid.

Not all prenuptial agreements are ruled unenforceable because of malicious activities. In some cases, honest mistakes are made. Some prenups are not composed in the proper legal form. The language may be too vague. An agreement is not properly drafted may be superseded by the equitable distribution laws of the state. This is why spouses ready to tie the knot should consider legal counsel to help draft a prenup that is likely to be enforced.

Keep in mind that this information is only for educational benefit. Do not read it as a substitute for the advice of a professional attorney.