How does a prenuptial agreement hold up in divorce court?
Recent data tells us that prenuptial agreements are becoming a common tool for couples. Over the past three years, many divorce attorneys have noticed an increase in clients seeking the agreement. As a result of many different factors, the prenuptial agreement is being utilized more and more; but how does it hold up in divorce court? What happens when a couple actually needs to rely on a prenuptial agreement or contests the terms during divorce?
Prenuptial agreements may be gaining in popularity for many reasons, but one major factor is the hopefulness of our economy. The stock market and real estate market are showing more hope for investors, and that can mean a lot of growth over the next few years. Investors are looking to protect the future of their assets by delineating the possible distribution of wealth in the event that the marriage dissolves.
Another factor related to greater interest in prenuptial agreements has to do with the changing dynamic of public opinion on divorce. At one time, prenuptial agreements were seen as a tool for the richest and wealthiest individuals; they also carried a negative reputation as far as love and romance are concerned. The increased awareness of the purpose of the document combined with the understanding of high divorce rates, people are beginning to see the advantages of having this safety net.
Should a couple be forced to rely on their prenuptial agreement, there are few items to consider before getting too comfortable with the divorce process. Just because this document was signed prior to the marriage does not absolve you from taking additional steps towards finalizing a divorce.
You and your divorce attorney should begin delving into any and all documentation that illustrates full or proper disclosure of your finances at the time the prenuptial agreement was negotiated. All accounting of debts, assets, and income should be researched. Your attorney will also help confirm that the document was properly executed in the proper jurisdiction. Also ask your attorney to research any correspondence that occurred during the process of planning and negotiating the prenuptial agreement. These discussions could be considered evidence if the agreement is being challenged in court.
Also take a step back and analyze if you truly fulfilled or followed the obligations set forth in the prenuptial agreement. If you went beyond the scope of the agreement and benefits were received by your spouse, the agreement may be considered to have been ratified. This could make it much more difficult to fight any terms of the prenuptial agreement in court.
If you are currently researching and preparing a prenuptial agreement prior to a marriage, these tips should provide insight on how to best prepare yourself for negotiations. Understanding the scope of what the document can cover and how it will hold up in court are critical. One of the most common methods to argue a prenuptial agreement is whether or not the terms of the agreement are considered reasonable at the time it was signed by the other party. Whether or not the agreement was reasonable will likely be challenged.
Accusations of fraud, forgery, or lack of disclosure may also occur. Having a prenuptial agreement can eliminate a lot of ambiguity and concern in the event of divorce, but does not always mean the divorce will be clear cut. Maintaining the terms and records that support the agreement with the help of an experienced attorney will help your case when a prenup is challenged during divorce.
Call the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. for more information on prenuptial agreements. Our experienced Bucks County divorce attorneys handle all domestic relations matters, from divorce to support, custody and protection from abuse. Feel free to submit an inquiry form or call (215) 693-6191 to schedule your consultation.