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Invalidating a California prenuptial agreement

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Family Law |

Many Los Angeles couples enter into a prenuptial agreement before they marry. While prenuptial agreements are supposed to ease the pain of a divorce, they often lead to divorce by imposing unfair or burdensome terms on one of the spouses. People who find themselves in this situation often wonder whether they have any recourse. While a motion (or trial) to declare a prenup invalid may be difficult, this result is not impossible to obtain.

The basic reason a court will invalidate a prenuptial agreement

All prenups must be signed by both parties before the wedding. In some states, the signing must be witnessed by two adults. The failure to satisfy either requirement will lead the court to rule that the agreement is invalid. Because most prenups are drafted by skilled attorneys, the so-called “formalities” are seldom ignored and rarely provide a reason for invalidating the agreement.

More persuasive reasons for invalidating a prenup

A far more persuasive reason for invalidating a prenup is proof that the complaining spouse was forced or tricked into signing the document. One spouse may make a false statement intended to induce the other spouse into accepting the agreement. If the complaining spouse can prove that the statement was made, that it was false and was intended to induce the person into signing the agreement, most judges will declare the agreement to be invalid.

A second persuasive but difficult-to-prove reason for invalidating a prenup agreement is undue pressure. Often, a wealthy person entering a second (or third) marriage will want to ensure that the intended spouse will not be able to share in the wealthy person’s assets.

Thus, this person may put pressure on the intended spouse to sign an agreement in which they yield important rights to obtain some of the assets of the wealthier spouse in the event of divorce. This pressure can be applied in a number of ways: a threat to abandon the wedding, time pressure that will deprive one fiancé of the opportunity to obtain a thorough review of the agreement by a competent lawyer or signing the agreement too close to the wedding date.

A third persuasive reason for invalidating a prenup is proof that the document was presented too close to the wedding date, thus preventing any useful review by a lawyer. Another persuasive reason for invalidating a prenup is proof that the agreement was unfair to one of the parties.

Solid legal advice from an experienced attorney

Anyone who has concerns about a prenuptial agreement may wish to seek review by an experienced divorce attorney who can evaluate the evidence and provide an opinion about the agreement’s validity.