Although prenuptial agreements were once only used by the incredibly rich and famous, these documents have seen an increase in popularly in recent decades. For many couples, prenuptial agreements can guide and simplify the divorce process. However, it is possible for people to abuse these documents to control a spouse or create an unfair outcome to divorce.
The family courts will carefully consider a legally sound and properly executed prenuptial agreement, but they do not universally uphold prenups. Learning more about these important contracts may help you determine the likelihood of the courts agreeing to the terms set out in your prenup.
Balanced agreements and independent counsel help
If one party creates an agreement that unfairly benefits that spouse at the expense of the other, the courts may decide against enforcing or upholding the prenuptial agreement.
Similarly, the courts will want to know about the circumstances around the signing. Ideally, both you and your spouse had the opportunity for your own, independent attorney to review the document before you signed it. If one party did not receive adequate legal consul about the agreement, especially if the terms disadvantage that spouse, the courts may not uphold it.
Courts will ignore your parenting or child support agreements
There are certain topics the courts generally do not allow couples to decide in prenuptial contracts. Child support and custody arrangements must work in the bested interests of the children, not the parents. As such, the courts will typically disregard any part of a prenuptial agreement that addresses child support or custody. Instead, the court will attempt to create arrangements that serve the child as well as possible.
In some cases, including sections on child custody or child support will result in the courts ignoring those clauses. Sometimes, however, the courts may decide to ignore the entire prenuptial agreement if it focuses on topics like child support and custody.
Undue influence or duress could invalidate the contract
If one party forces, blackmails or coerces the other into signing, the courts may invalidate the prenuptial agreement, if evidence of that claim exists. Undue influence or otherwise undermining the legal authority and autonomy of the other signer could also invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
Even pregnancy could impact the validity of the agreement. An expectant mother could feel like she had no choice but to sign or risk raising the unborn child alone. That constitutes duress and may also invalidate the prenup. If you are going through a divorce and there are any questionable inclusions or unclear circumstances surrounding your prenuptial agreement, whether you are trying to enforce or challenge it, you may want to seek out legal guidance on the matter.