Can you be bound by an invalid prenup?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Before you and your spouse got married, they asked you to use a prenuptial agreement. Perhaps you were getting married later in life, and you both had a significant amount of assets that you wanted to protect. The prenup was simply a way to make proactive decisions in the event that things didn’t turn out in the way you both hoped that they would.

However, you now believe that the prenuptial agreement was invalid. There are many reasons that a prenup could be rendered invalid. They include:

  1. You were pressured into signing it.
  2. You were threatened if you refused to sign.
  3. You were not given enough time for consideration, such as being asked to sign a prenuptial agreement the night before the wedding.
  4. You never actually read the prenup, but simply signed it when your spouse asked.
  5. The prenup was not written down in the first place, but was more of a handshake deal.
  6. Your spouse was untruthful, and the prenup is based on fraud or false information.
  7. There are invalid or illegal provisions in the prenup.
  8. The prenuptial agreement addresses potential child custody decisions.
  9. The prenup is so lopsided that it would create a hardship for you.
  10. You did not have the mental capacity to sign the prenup, such as if you had been drinking or using drugs – including some legal medications.

Say that your spouse came to you the day before the wedding and asked you to sign a last-minute prenup. You didn’t want to, but you also didn’t want to call the marriage off, so you signed it. Are you still bound by it even though it may be invalid?

It could be thrown out of court

The good news is that you should not be bound by an invalid prenup. The court can decide to discard the document and make all decisions about division of assets in real time. The fact that you signed the agreement doesn’t matter if that agreement was fraudulent or illegal to begin with. Just finding one illegal provision can sometimes be enough for the court to set the entire document aside.

What if your divorce gets more complex afterward?

Of course, your divorce may become more complicated because of this situation. This is just one reason why it’s so important to understand exactly what legal steps to take at this time. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.


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