Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Invalid?

If you lived in New York in 2013, you may have heard the story of a Long Island woman who signed a prenuptial agreement before marrying a millionaire in 1998. When a Brooklyn court deemed the couple’s prenup invalid, the landmark case set a precedent for divorce lawyers all over the state, who definitely took notice.

In the past, prenuptial agreements were traditionally viewed as unromantic – they symbolized a lack of trust and commitment. Some fiancés even found them insulting. However, much has changed in the past 50 years and attitudes towards prenups have changed over time. These days, prenups are almost “standard” among high-net-worth couples for reasons we can understand.

While prenups protect the spouse with greater assets, they can also protect lower-earning spouse’s financial interests should the marriage end in divorce. In fact, we regularly advise high-net-worth couples to enter into a thoughtfully conceived prenuptial agreement, even if we are representing the less wealthy party.

Challenging a Prenuptial Agreement

Though most prenuptial agreements stand up in court, occasionally, a spouse will seek to have their prenup revoked. This is only possible when the spouse has defensible grounds to invalidate the agreement. Under the following conditions, a prenup may be challenged:

  • The prenuptial agreement was based on fraud; for example, one spouse failed to fully disclose his or her assets. This is common when a spouse undervalues their assets or conceals them entirely.
  • The agreement was signed under duress or one spouse lacked the mental capacity to sign the prenup.
  • The legal contract contained careless errors, rendering the contract less than ironclad.
  • A spouse signed the prenup without independent counsel.
  • The agreement was clearly unfair or contained unenforceable conditions, such as, “She won’t receive any child support,” or “He won’t receive any portion of the marital assets.”
  • The prenup was oral; therefore, it is not legally valid.
  • The prenup was not executed voluntarily; it was coerced.

If you are getting married, it’s important to keep this information in mind while drafting a prenup. If you are trying to challenge a prenup that you believe was unfair or invalid, it’s critically important that you consult with a family law attorney for direction and guidance.

For superior legal counsel on Long Island, contact Samuelson Hause & Samuelson, LLP.

Categories