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Can a Prenuptial Agreement be Voided?

Posted in Divorce,Family Law on September 23, 2019

A prenuptial agreement may be an excellent way for couples to start out on the right foot in their marriage, being both in agreement regarding assets, expectations, and responsibilities. Nonetheless, when a prenuptial agreement is done incorrectly, all of the protections you have set in place can be undone. Although considered difficult to invalidate, here are five conditions in which a prenuptial agreement can possibly be voided:

Not a Written Contract

First of all, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both spouses to be enforceable. It cannot be created orally.

Improper Execution

An agreement must be signed well in advance of when the wedding is taking place. Having your fiancé sign the paperwork hours before the wedding can raise a strong inference that your spouse did not sign the agreement voluntarily but under duress. Additionally, a spouse may challenge the agreement if they felt coerced into signing, for example, due to threat of physical or psychological harm.

Lack of Legal Counsel

Each party should have the opportunity to seek independent legal counsel. When one of the signing parties does not receive private legal counsel before signing or didn’t have the time for it, that could be grounds for invalidation. Having an attorney review the document is not mandatory, however, it is highly recommended to ensure the prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

Failure to Disclose

An agreement containing a false or incomplete disclosure from either spouse regarding income, assets, or liabilities will likely be disregarded by a Maryland court. Whether or not the failed disclosure was a serious error or a case of fraud, there would be no way for the other spouse to determine if the contract was fair, as well as what they might be giving up.

Unconscionability

If the various provisions or terms included in the prenuptial agreement are extraordinarily unfair or illegal, given the circumstances of the parties, a court could reject to uphold it.

In the state of Maryland, contract law governs prenuptial agreements, rather than laws that specifically address the documents. Prenuptial agreements can cover decisions regarding the following issues:

  • Property rights to property acquired before or during the marriage.
  • Division of assets and debts.
  • Alimony: the amount and duration.
  • Inheritance rights
  • Wills: whether or not they will be written to enforce the agreed-upon terms.

Modifications to a prenuptial agreement can be made following a marriage, as long as both spouses agree and the amendments are in writing as well assigned. When a marriage has been annulled or voided, courts will not require a prenuptial agreement to be implemented.

Generally, it is difficult to prove that a prenup contract is legally void, therefore courts find most to be enforceable. When a spouse is challenging an agreement’s validity, either due to fraud, coercion, duress, a mistake, undue influence, or unconscionability, they have the burden of proof to show that the contract is unenforceable.