Two and a half years after their lavish wedding ceremony and reception, Mark and Cindy were ready to call it quits. Their marriage seemed headed for a quick dissolution, in part because they had signed a prenup. They had signed their premarital agreement because Cindy brought more separate assets into the marriage, along with a higher salary than Mark’s. Over the course of even a couple of years, a couple’s financial situation and feelings about property may change. However, can you contest a prenup with a marriage ends? That’s what we’re going to explore in this article.
What’s a Prenup?
It’s a legal contract that is signed before a couple weds. The terms of a prenuptial agreement, which is also called a premarital agreement, relate to how each person’s property will be treated during a divorce or if one party dies. The agreement becomes effective only when the couple is married.
In California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) states that the parties to a prenup may agree to any of the following:
- Rights and obligations regarding property;
- The right to manage and control property;
- How to dispose of the property under certain circumstances, including divorce;
- Estate planning that carries out the terms of the prenup;
- Disposition of life insurance proceeds; and
- Any matter that does not violate public policy or statutes imposing criminal penalties.
Some provisions should not appear in a premarital agreement. In fact, they could give you the opening you need to contest your prenup agreement.
To Contest a Prenup …
The UPAA includes specific reasons a premarital agreement, or certain parts of it, might be unenforceable:
- Child support cannot be adversely affected by your prenup. Any language absolving your soon-to-be-ex-spouse of his or her child support obligations may be contested.
- Spousal support provisions may spell trouble also. One party might contest the prenuptial agreement if the party waiving spousal support was not represented by an attorney. Also, the spousal support provisions may be unenforceable at the time you attempt to enforce the premarital agreement.
Other reasons your prenup may be unenforceable under UPAA include:
- You were coerced or forced to sign the agreement.
- The other party did not provide complete financial disclosures before you signed.
- You lacked the capacity to understand the consequences of the agreement.
- Less than seven calendar days elapsed between the time you were given the agreement to review and the date the agreement was signed.
- You were not represented by separate legal counsel.
Discuss your options with a California divorce attorney between doing anything. In some cases, the marriage itself may be void or annulled. If so, the prenuptial agreement may be unenforceable.
It Can Be Difficult to Contest a Prenup, but Not Impossible
Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.