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What does it take to invalidate a prenuptial agreement?

In preparation for marriage, many couples take a practical step by signing a prenuptial agreement. No one gets married intending to divorce, but making such a move is a way to ease the divorce process for everyone involved in the event that a couple makes the decision to split up. Although most of these agreements are enforced during divorce proceedings, Colorado readers should know they aren't necessarily infallible.

A recent case from another state demonstrates the importance of ensuring sure that a prenuptial agreement is ironclad from the get-go. If one spouse can prove that the agreement isn't enforceable, then the split will not proceed in the way established by the prenuptial.

In a surprising decision, a woman successfully challenged the validity of the prenuptial agreement she signed just days before her wedding. According to the woman, her husband agreed to nix the agreement as soon as they had kids, only after putting serious pressure on the woman to sign the document. The couple eventually had children, but the woman's husband still tried to use the prenuptial when they decided to divorce years later.

The court ruled that the prenuptial wasn't valid because the husband essentially coerced the woman to sign it. In all fairness, it is generally quite difficult to invalidate a prenuptial agreement, but this case demonstrates that it isn't impossible.

Above all else, couples approaching their wedding vows should be sure that their prenuptial is airtight. Without that assurance, divorcing couples will likely have to go through the process of negotiating a settlement or allowing the court to weigh in, which can create the kind of stress the agreement intended to prevent.

Source: Associated Press, "NY court decision voiding prenup sparks legal row," March 12, 2013

  • To learn more about the family law issues discussed in this blog post, please visit our Denver prenuptial agreement page.

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