Contesting a Prenuptial Agreement

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Contesting a Prenuptial Agreement

Many couples planning to marry decide to sign prenuptial agreements, also called premarital contracts, prenups, or premarital agreements. These legally binding contracts outline each party’s provisions, assets, and debts, including educational debts, medical bills, financial accounts, etc. They also set out the rights and obligations of both parties going into the marriage.

The purpose of these agreements is to provide protection for both spouses if they divorce later on. They may address such issues as property division, spousal support, and other aspects of divorce. The main regard of a prenuptial agreement is financial protection, as it is typically an area of caution when one spouse has a significantly higher amount of money, assets, or debt going into the marriage. These are voluntary agreements that require full disclosure of all financials, and they must comply with California state law to be enforceable.

Ways to Challenge a Prenuptial Agreement

While California courts do recognize premarital contracts as legally binding, if it can be proven that a prenup does not meet legal requirements or was created under legitimate grounds for invalidating the agreement, there may be a case to contest the premarital contract. For example, if it can be proven that a prenuptial agreement was improperly executed, and that it does not meet the requirements of the law, such as not being signed by both parties willingly and voluntarily, one spouse may have grounds to challenge the agreement. Some other grounds for contesting a premarital contract are described below.

  • Lack of Consent – If one spouse has evidence proving that the agreement was not a voluntary act by both parties, a California court may rule a prenuptial agreement invalid. This may happen if they were coerced, blackmailed, influenced, or lacked the mental capacity to understand the agreement or the terms of the contract.
  • Unenforceable Provisions – There are certain provisions within a prenuptial agreement that California law may deem unenforceable. For instance, agreements that go against public policy or involve illegal acts, such as the exchange of money for sexual acts, which is illegal in California, will not be acknowledged as legally binding in California family court.
  • Lack of Full Disclosure – If it is found that one party did not fully disclose, at the time the agreement was signed, their assets, financial responsibilities, debts, property, financial accounts, or other relevant information, it may be grounds for contesting a premarital contract.
  • Lack of Representation – If both parties were not represented by their own lawyer, individually, at the time the premarital contract was signed, the unrepresented spouse could contest the contract.

Generally, California courts require a prenuptial agreement to be fair, and when it is one-sided or seemingly doesn’t consider the interests of both parties, a judge may question its validity.

The Process of Challenging a Premarital Agreement

If an individual believes that their prenuptial agreement should not be recognized in a court of law, they may decide to challenge the validity of the agreement. The first step to doing this is to file a legal action to contest the premarital agreement. It is wise to enlist the help of an experienced family law attorney to assist you in filing your request.

Once your request is filed and processed, a judge will consider the evidence submitted by both sides and evaluate the situation to rule on the enforceability of the agreement. It can be very difficult to convince a judge in many cases that a prenuptial agreement is not enforceable, mainly because California generally recognizes most prenuptial agreements as valid in divorce cases.

Therefore, if you genuinely believe that your prenuptial agreement was executed improperly or should not be considered a valid contract, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel from a prenuptial agreement attorney. They know what kind of evidence holds up in court to build a strong case. Your attorney can advise you on the right approach for your case to convince a judge to invalidate your premarital contract.

How Does a Postnup or a Prenup Affect Your California Divorce?


Q: What Is California’s Seven-Day Rule for Prenups?

A: The relatively new seven-day law regarding prenuptial contracts requires participating couples to have a seven-day waiting period before signing a premarital contract. That way, they can have time to think over the terms that they are agreeing to. This required time period must be considered when planning for a marriage ceremony.

Q: Can a Prenup Result in One Spouse Having Nothing?

A: A California family court will typically not allow one spouse to take everything and leave the other spouse with inadequate means of supporting themselves. If a prenup directs this type of situation, the judge will likely question the contract and, more than likely, deem it unenforceable. Divorce proceedings will then continue within the realms of traditional California state laws that govern divorce.

Q: Does Cheating Invalidate a Prenuptial Contract?

A: Cheating does not automatically void a prenup. In fact, it will not have any effect on divorce proceedings at all, as California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that there is no consideration regarding why a couple files for divorce, only that they both want to end the marriage. However, if the prenup specifically includes an infidelity clause or mentions that the act of cheating will affect the contract, then that provision will be recognized in court.

Q: What Cannot Be Included in a Premarital Contract?

A: There are certain things that cannot be written into a prenuptial agreement. These include:

  • Anything related to the custody or support of children
  • Any action that is regarded as illegal
  • Terms that dictate issues that are not financial in nature
  • Unreasonable or unfair terms to either spouse
  • Any type of incentive for divorce

Hiring an Attorney to Help You Contest a Prenuptial Contract

Speaking with an experienced California prenuptial contract attorney can often illuminate issues surrounding questionable premarital agreements. Bickford Blado & Botros are skilled in drafting admissible premarital contracts. We can also review existing agreements to advise individuals on the likelihood of the validity of such documents. Call Bickford Blado & Botros to speak with a qualified member of our legal team. Let us help you obtain the answers to your questions and the legal services that you need to move forward with your divorce.




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