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Family Law Specialists
Serving Northern California

Can you challenge your prenup if you plan to get divorced?

| Aug 20, 2020 | Family Law |

You married someone with professional aspirations because you expected a decent standard of life and probably found their ambition attractive or inspiring. Unfortunately, before you got married, you agreed to sign a prenuptial agreement that extended many protections to your spouse but very few to you.

Now that you find yourself considering divorce, you may worry about the terms of your prenuptial agreement and how that could impact your financial stability after the divorce. Is it possible for you to challenge the documents and seek social support or a larger share of the marital estate?

You need a valid reason to challenge a prenuptial agreement

As with any contract signed by two or more consenting adults, your prenuptial agreement is meant to hold up under legal scrutiny. The entire point of a prenuptial agreement is to streamline and simplify the dissolution of marriage by setting terms ahead of time, not to cause additional fighting and stress.

You can’t contest a prenuptial agreement just because you are unhappy about it, but you may be able to challenge it if you have grounds for doing so.

What are common reasons to challenge prenuptial agreements?

There are multiple reasons that allow for the successful challenge of a prenuptial agreement. One of the best-known would involve one spouse signing under duress. If your spouse threatened or coerced you into signing or if they refused to marry you if you did not sign it but you were already pregnant, for example, you may be able to argue that duress influenced your decision.

The courts may also choose to invalidate the document if you didn’t have your own legal representation review it before signing because that would put you in a disadvantaged position. Similarly, a prenuptial agreement that only has protections and favorable terms for one spouse may be unconscionable in the eyes of the court.

Contracts should include benefits for both parties. When a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement only extends protection to one spouse, the other spouse could potentially have grounds to challenge the validity of the document because it favors one spouse over the other. The same is true about prenuptial agreements that include personal terms, like financial penalties for weight gain or demands for the frequency of sexual intimacy, as well as illegal terms, like waiving child support.

Reviewing your prenuptial agreement and discussing the circumstances at the time that you executed it with someone familiar with family law can give you a better idea of what options you have going forward.