Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups” for short, are tremendously valuable legal tools that help couples planning to marry protect their assets and plan for their future. Although they have gotten a bad reputation due to outrageous celebrity marriages, prenuptial agreements can be useful to anyone getting married. Unfortunately, some people think that they have signed a legally-binding prenuptial agreement only to find out it is unenforceable during a divorce. There are several ways a prenup can be considered invalid.
A Prenup Must Meet Certain Requirements to Be Legally-Enforceable
Sometimes in movies or television, a character will scribble a contract such a prenuptial agreement on something like a napkin and it is assumed to be legally binding. Although it can be a good plot point for a fictional story, in reality, the courts only recognize prenuptial agreements which are properly constructed and executed. A prenup must be written, signed, and agreed upon by both parties.
Instances in Which Courts May Disregard a Prenuptial Agreement
There are certain circumstances which can cause a prenuptial agreement to be thrown out by the court. A prenup may be considered invalid if one or both spouses:
- Were pressured into signing the document: If a spouse or a spouse’s family coerces the other spouse to sign the prenuptial agreement against his or her will, it may be invalidated;
- Did not read the contents of the agreement: If one or both spouses failed to fully reiew the contract before signing it, it could be considered invalid;
- Did not have time to think about the contract: If a spouse presents the other with a prenuptial agreement the morning of their wedding, there is not sufficient time to review its provisions adequately. A prenuptial agreement signed in haste will probably be nullified;
- Lied about assets, income, or debts: A prenuptial agreement which has inaccurate information will not be enforceable;
- Failed to provide necessary information: A prenuptial agreement which is incomplete may not stand up in court; or
- Included unconscionable provisions: In order to be considered valid, a contract cannot have grossly unfair or unethical provisions. A prenuptial agreement which gives all of the marital assets to one spouse and all the debts to the other spouse, for example, would probably be set aside.
Experienced Attorneys for Premarital Agreements
Some states actually require engaged couples creating a prenuptial agreement to seek advice from separate and independent counsel. Although Illinois does not require couples to meet with an attorney, most experts agree that it is a good idea anyway. To schedule a consultation with a qualified Wheaton family law attorney from the Andrew Cores Family Law Group, call 630-871-1002 today.