When is a Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable?

Sun 12th January, 2020 Family Law

In many marriages, a prenuptial agreement is a great way to establish property interests and settle disputes before they ever arise between a couple. Prenuptial agreements dictate property distribution if the couple ever chooses to divorce and can firm up inheritance rights in blended families. However, in some cases, a prenuptial agreement is not enforceable, and it is critical that spouses who question the terms of their prenuptial agreement know when they can challenge the enforceability of that contract during a divorce. At the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler, our team of legal experts is here to provide you with top-tier legal representation in your California divorce case. Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Procedural Issues

One common reason that a prenuptial agreement is deemed unenforceable is due to procedural issues. It can be something as simple as the spouses failing to sign the agreement, or the contract can be deemed void if one spouse did not receive the opportunity to review the contents of the document with legal counsel.

Terms that Violate Public Policy

Another reason that a prenuptial agreement may be deemed unenforceable is because the document contains terms that violate public policy. Violations of public policy cover a wide range of prenuptial agreement clauses. Terms that dictate certain moral or religious adherence are often seen in violation of public policy, as are terms that require the performance of certain household duties or companionship. Depending on the specifics of your agreement, the court could either choose to strike the specific terms that violate public policy or deem the entire contract unenforceable.

Unconscionable Terms

A prenuptial agreement may also be unenforceable if the contract is skewed so far in one spouse’s favor the court deems it unconscionable. This is the stereotypical view of prenuptial agreements often exaggerated in television and movies where the wealthier spouse keeps everything and the poorer spouse receives nothing in a divorce. In order to be unconscionable, the court must conclude that one spouse had no choice but to sign the agreement despite the terms being radically unfair.

Duress or Fraud

Two final causes that render a prenuptial agreement unenforceable is duress and fraud. Duress occurs when one spouse forces or coerces the other spouse to sign the agreement despite an initial refusal to do so. In cases with prenuptial agreements, this is often seen where one spouse blindsides the other with the contract right before the wedding and demands a signature or else he or she will refuse to go forward with the wedding.

Fraud occurs when one spouse was tricked into signing the agreement by the other. One common example of this is hiding the prenuptial agreement in a stack of other documents that need to be signed or only offering the signatory page and claiming that it is for another document. In both cases of duress and fraud the court will deem the entire agreement unenforceable

Call or Contact Our Office Now

If you believe that your prenuptial agreement is not enforceable, it is important that you speak with an experienced California divorce attorney as soon as possible about your case. To learn more, call the office or contact us today at the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Los Angeles to schedule a free consultation.