In What Circumstances is a Postnuptial Agreement Void?
Posted in Prenuptial Agreements on March 10, 2023
A postnuptial agreement, often referred to as a postnup, defines how assets, debts, and finances will be divided in the event that the couple separates or divorces. Postnups can make it easier to resolve financial disputes and protect assets if the marriage ends. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement, except the contract was drawn up after the couple was already married.
Though, you must note that all postnuptial agreements are not enforceable. Below are some of the reasons that a postnup could be voided.
Postnuptial Agreements Signed Under Duress
For a postnuptial agreement to be enforceable, it must be entered into voluntarily by both partners. They must clearly grasp what they are agreeing to and enter into the agreement of their own free will. If coercion was used to gain one of the partner’s compliance, the postnuptial agreement is unenforceable and considered void.
In court, it may be difficult to show coercion. Evidence like witness testimony and communications between the partners can prove that force was used to coerce one of the partners into signing the postnuptial contract. If this is proven, the postnup is no longer valid.
Failure to Disclose Assets or Debts
When entering a postnuptial agreement, both partners must practice full transparency when disclosing what they own and owe. This means that they have to disclose their assets, income, debts, and financial responsibilities.
Failure to do so by either spouse will render the postnuptial agreement void. Both partners are entitled to have all of the financial information to make an informed decision about whether entering into the postnuptial agreement is in their best interest.
A postnuptial agreement must protect both partners. If it is unbalanced, so much so that it “shocks the conscience,” the contract would be considered unconscionable if a postnup deprives one spouse of any rights or assets if the couple separates or divorces, the agreement may be voided due to unconscionability.
In some cases, the agreement may need to be modified, according to the court, to make it more equitable. Postnuptial agreements that appear unfair will fail to hold up in court. An experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney can ensure your postnuptial agreement is equitable and enforceable.
Unlawful or Illegal Postnupts Might be Voided
If a postnuptial agreement could be considered illegal, it would be voided. For instance, if the agreement waives child support or custody rights, it might violate state and federal laws. Such a provision would be illegal so the postnuptial agreement would be unenforceable.
Another aspect of a postnup that may cause the court to question its legality is limiting spousal support. It is imperative to have a well-written, fair, and equitable postnuptial agreement drafted if you want it to hold weight in court. The court may look questioningly at these types of clauses and could reject the postnup altogether.
For Your Postnuptial Agreement Questions, Contact Us
While postnuptial agreements may be valuable tools for protecting assets and resolving long and messy divorce disputes, they must be done to the letter of the law so that they are enforceable. If you have questions about drafting a postnup or about whether one you have entered into is enforceable, you should consult with a family law attorney with Ratzer | Dobis for guidance.