Prenuptial agreements are private contracts that some couples make prior to marriage. A postnuptial agreement is pretty much the same, only it is established after the marriage begins.
The point of a prenup is simple: They aim to minimize potential conflicts that can arise should the couple later divorce. To that end, they usually try to address things like the division of marital property, spousal support and similar issues.
What happens, however, if someone decides their prenup is unfair? Is it possible to break it? Maybe. Here are some of the most common reasons prenuptial agreements may be voided:
- Someone lied: Premarital agreements are only legitimate if both parties commit to full disclosure of their income, assets and debts prior to signing. If one party failed to disclose something important (like their offshore investments) or outright lied about their income and assets, the prenup may be invalid.
- It was rushed: Generally, both parties have to have sufficient opportunity to review a prenup and seek their own legal counsel before agreeing to a prenup. If they don’t, the contract may not be enforceable. Similarly, if one party was pressured into signing through threats, extortion or some other means, that agreement may be voided.
- The agreement contains illegal provisions: Prenups cannot address matters of child support or custody, for example. If a premarital agreement contains illegal clauses, the court may choose to enforce just part of the contract or nothing at all.
- It’s very lopsided: Sometimes prenups are just terribly unfair. If, for example, someone without income or resources marries someone who is wealthy, a prenup that gives the poorer spouse nothing even after decades of marriage could be considered unfair.
If you have a prenup that’s questionable, there may be a lot at stake in your divorce. Before you assume that it’s iron-clad, talk to an attorney. You may have more options than you realize.