If you live in Newport Beach or anywhere in South Orange County, prenuptial agreements are common in these parts. Few OC residents blink an eye these days when their fiancé mentions drafting a prenup before the wedding.
You may have heard of an occasional prenuptial agreement being thrown out in court – though rare, this does happen once in a while. For example, in 2013, a Long Island woman’s prenuptial agreement signed before her 1998 wedding with her millionaire husband was thrown out by a Brooklyn court. Not surprisingly, the high-profile case captured the attention of lawyers from both coasts.
Will More Prenups Be Invalidated?
Are more spouses trying to have their prenuptial agreements tossed out in court, especially in community property states like California where there are potentially more assets at stake? Twenty or thirty years ago, prenups were considered unromantic, but now they have become the norm among high-net-worth couples.
In simple terms, a prenup creates a formal agreement between engaged couples about which assets will be separate property, which assets will be marital property, and what financial provisions will be made in the event of a breakup.
Prenups do not address child custody and they cannot leave one spouse penniless in a divorce. Commonly, prenups are drawn up so the spouse with more assets will not lose an unfair portion of their wealth if the marriage should dissolve.
In the last 15 years, it’s become easier to invalidate prenups; in the past, it seemed virtually impossible. On rare occasions, a spouse signed an agreement that is questionable and that may be revoked. Here are examples of how that could occur:
- The prenup was fraudulent because the wealthy spouse intentionally undervalued their income or assets or failed to disclose all of their income or assets. In these cases, a prenup can be thrown out.
- One of the fiancés were coerced into or forced to sign the prenup, or they did not have the mental capacity to sign it; for example, because they were ill or under the influence of drugs when they signed it.
- The paperwork was poorly drafted, or it wasn’t properly filed.
- A fiancé signed the prenup without proper legal representation.
- The prenuptial agreement contains ridiculous conditions about no child support, weight gain, sexual relations, etc.