What Can Void a Prenuptial Agreement?
Posted in Prenuptial Agreements on January 5, 2022
A prenuptial agreement is a popular way to protect a spouse’s assets in the event of a dissolution of marriage. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract with terms that both parties have agreed will come into effect should the couple ever divorce. In certain circumstances, however, a prenuptial agreement will be voided, or ruled unenforceable, in California.
Incorrect Legal Procedures
Most states have adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. This act creates rules to determine when prenuptial agreements will be enforced. It also places limitations on what can be included in a prenup, although it states that parties are free to create financial terms on which they both agree. A valid prenup must meet the following requirements:
- A prenuptial agreement in California must be put in writing. The courts will not enforce a verbal agreement.
- The document must also have been signed by both spouses, acting on their own free will and with knowledge of what they were signing.
- The spouse signing the prenup must have received complete information about the other spouse’s property and finances.
- The signing party must have had at least seven days to review the agreement before signing.
- Finally, the signing spouse must have been represented by a separate attorney or have expressly waived this right.
If a couple does not follow the required legal procedures when filling out and submitting the paperwork to create a prenuptial agreement, this could create an invalid or voidable legal document.
Although the contents of a prenuptial agreement are largely up to the couple, its terms must fall within what is “conscionable.” The terms must be fair, lawful, reasonable and not one-sided. They cannot go against public policy. If a judge reviews the terms of a prenuptial agreement and deems them to be unconscionable, this will void the legal contract. A judge may find a prenup to be unconscionable if it states that one spouse will get to keep all marital assets, for example, leaving the other spouse with nothing and no right to an equitable division of property.
Failure to Disclose
Part of the law surrounding prenups is a requirement to disclose the full financial information of the spouse drawing up the document. The signing party must have full knowledge of the other spouse’s property, assets and debts. If it is alleged that the party hid assets from the signing spouse at the time that the prenuptial agreement was created, or that the contract contains falsified financial information, this will void the agreement.
Duress or Coercion
Duress means that the prenuptial agreement was signed because the signing party felt threatened or pressured into doing so, such as one spouse threatening to cancel the wedding if the other spouse does not sign. Coercion means that the document was signed using force, threats or blackmail against the signing party. In California, a document signed under duress or coercion is null.
Fraud or False Promises
If one spouse lies, misrepresents a material fact, commits fraud or makes false promises in a premarital contract, this can void the document. The signing spouse could argue in this case that the basis of the contract is fraudulent. Fraud or deceit will interfere with the spouse’s ability to give his or her informed consent when signing the document.
Contact a Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
A prenuptial agreement can be voided in California for many reasons. This is why you should work with an attorney to create your document, to avoid mistakes that could make it unenforceable. If you are going through a divorce that involves a prenuptial agreement and wish to find out if you can void this contract, contact an attorney at Ratzer|Dobis for assistance. Our prenuptial agreement lawyers in Solana Beach can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process.