Executing a prenuptial agreement is a common strategy for those who want to protect their assets in a divorce. These increasingly common documents allow those planning to marry to outline their expectations for the marriage and any divorce that could occur in the future.
Simply signing a prenuptial agreement won’t necessarily protect you from a contentious, litigated divorce. There are circumstances in which the courts may throw out your prenuptial agreement, particularly if one of the parties who signed the document asks them to do so.
One or both parties failed to secure their own attorney
The nature of a prenuptial document makes it possible for one person to use their wealth or authority prior to marriage to coerce the other into terms that are not fair or reasonable.
For that reason, most courts expect that everyone signing a prenuptial agreement will have their own attorney review the documents. If only one party had an attorney review the prenuptial agreement, the courts may side with the other party if they claim to have not understood the contents of the document.
The document includes illegal or unenforceable provisions
If your prenuptial agreement includes clauses that directly violate New York law, the courts may determine that the documents are invalid and choose to throw it out, instead of letting it guide the divorce process.
An example of an illegal clause could be one spouse waiving the right to collect child support in a prenuptial agreement. Because the support benefits the children, not the parent, it is not reasonable for a parent to waive that important benefit on behalf of their children.
There are mistakes in the execution of the documents
When you sign a contract, you must make sure that you place your signature, initials and the date in all of the necessary places on the forms. A single missing signature could be enough to invalidate a contract between spouses.
This is another reason why having a lawyer represent you can help in the prenuptial agreement process, as an attorney will help you avoid making those paperwork errors that could render your prenuptial agreement worthless.