When a couple chooses to use a prenuptial agreement to protect each other and their own interests, they may assume that simply having a prenuptial agreement is enough. Like a will, it is usually better to have a prenuptial agreement of any kind rather than none at all, but if a prenuptial agreement is not carefully considered and prepared with an eye for detail, it may not stand up to scrutiny when it comes time to use it.
In many cases, this is because the agreement contains terms that are not legal to include, or was not properly executed. If a judge reviews the document and finds unacceptable terms, or if one party or the other attempts to challenge a weak prenuptial agreement, it may drag out the property division process and create a protracted conflict needlessly.
If you have concerns about the integrity of your prenuptial agreement, or if you are considering a prenuptial agreement of your own, it is important to make sure that you fully understand all the legal matters at hand. An experienced family attorney is a strong advocate to have in your corner, helping you understand the legal boundaries and strengths you have to protect yourself and your priorities.
Problematic terms in prenuptial agreements
One of the most common ways that a prenuptial agreement may come under scrutiny is including terms that the law does not allow or support. These agreements are primarily intended to protect both party's property and remove much of the stress of property division, but may also include certain terms surrounding financial expectations within the marriage.
However, many couples attempt to use these agreements to outline potential child support or child custody terms, which is not allowed. Courts determine child custody to ensure that neither parent signs away rights to parenting that he or she may later regret. The court likewise retains the power to determine child support based on the resources of the parents and needs of the child, because the support is the right of the child, not a privilege of the parent.
If an agreement includes terms that are otherwise illegal, or if the agreement presents terms that are grossly unfair to one party, a judge may also strike these portions of the agreement, or may simply throw out the entire agreement.
An agreement may also face difficulty if it was executed poorly to begin with. If, for instance, the agreement itself contains contradictory information or is incomplete, it will not likely hold water, legally speaking.
Similarly, if one party did not have proper time to consider the terms, or signed the agreement under duress, a judge may rule the agreement invalid on these grounds.
However, you choose to move forward with your prenuptial agreement concerns, be sure that you carefully consider all your legal options, keeping your rights and priorities secure through the strength of the law.