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Reasons to invalidate a prenuptial agreement

Your prenuptial agreement could be the document that saves you from spending a fortune on a divorce at some unknown point in the future. No one enters marriage with the idea that they'll one day get divorced; however, the reality is that divorces happen to the best-intentioned couples. And, if you're wise, you will prepare for such a possibility with a prenuptial agreement.

Just because a couple has created a prenuptial agreement, however, does not mean that the document will survive a court challenge. Here are a few ways that prenuptial agreements have been rendered invalid in New York courts:

  • The document was fraudulent. For example, maybe the prenuptial agreement did not accurately disclose all of the spouse's debts or assets. Maybe one of the spouses lied about something in the document. If a prenup is shown to be fraudulent it will not hold up in court.
  • One of the spouses was coerced. Imagine someone threatened a spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement or face the threat of violence. This would be an example of coercion and it would render a prenuptial agreement invalid.
  • Filing errors. Prenuptial agreements must be drafted and filed in a legally appropriate manner if they are to pass the judgment of the court.
  • One of the spouses wasn't represented by a lawyer. If one spouse hires a lawyer to draft a prenuptial agreement, the other spouse should have a lawyer who helps him or her understand the terms of the agreement. If one spouse didn't receive legal counsel before filing, he or she might not have fully understood the document.
  • The agreement was unfair. Sometimes prenuptial agreements are unfair and a court will invalidate them based on a sense of fairness alone.

Considering how difficult divorces can get for both sides of a marriage, most family law attorneys will encourage newlyweds to get a prenup. This document will help the couples establish a plan for deciding who will get what in their divorce, how matters of child custody will be handled and cover other important issues. That said, you might want to make sure you have all of your legal ducks in a row if you and your soon-to-be spouse are considering such a document.

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