Asking someone to sign a prenuptial agreement usually goes over like a lead balloon. But it is important to remember that prenups are a contract designed to protect both parties. A family lawyer can help prospective partners understand laws related to this type of agreement. A majority of states are regulated by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). But, Wisconsin and Minnesota have adopted a hybrid of UPAA and state standards. These laws also govern when a prenuptial agreement can be considered invalid.
What Can Make a Prenuptial Agreement Invalid?
1. It Was Not Put in Writing
A written prenuptial agreement is the universal rule for any contract to be legal. Without a written document, it becomes a case of “he said she said.” There could be some exceptions to this requirement, so it is important to speak with a family lawyer. However, failing to put it in writing will invalidate the agreement.
2. Fraudulent Activities or Intentions Were Involved
Fraudulent behavior from either spouse can nullify a prenuptial agreement. The majority of the time this occurs when someone is trying to hide assets, information, and earnings that could unfairly impact the outcome. Deceitful accounting of assets poisons the process of evaluating the fairness of the terms.
3. The Signature Was Coerced
If the prenup was signed after threats from the other spouse, a court would be hard-pressed to conclude that this person entered into the agreement voluntarily. This could also apply to a situation where the prenuptial agreement was presented the night before the wedding. Restricting the right of a spouse to absorb the terms and have a family lawyer review it could invalidate the agreement.
4. A Prospective Spouse Did Not Have Independent Counsel
Having independent counsel, like a family lawyer, is a core concept under the UPAA. Signing a prenuptial contract without having an evaluation may be enough to revoke the contract. The only applicable exception is if a person has waived their right to independent counsel.
5. The Contract Is Substantially Unfair
The court may rule a prenuptial contract invalid if it determines that it is substantially unfair to one party. In the court's eyes, this means that the agreement is so grossly unreasonable that it would be illegal to enforce it. For example, if the prenup leaves a spouse destitute while the other retains separate and marital assets, then a court will likely overturn the agreement.
Prenuptial agreements are intricate. If you are considering entering one, consult with a knowledgeable family lawyer. Guillien Van Nuland, LLC can help. With more than 25 years of experience, they represent clients in La Crosse, WI, including Monroe, Vernon, Trempealeau, Crawford, Juneau, and Buffalo Counties. They also serve Houston, Fillmore and Winona Counties in Minnesota. Visit their website or call (608) 782-4411 to speak with a lawyer today.