Most divorce attorneys in New York will advise their clients to sign a proper prenuptial agreement before they take their wedding vows. In most cases, this advice is sound. A valid prenuptial agreement can resolve many disputes before they become heated if the couple should decide to end their marriage. Unfortunately, life does not always proceed as expected, and some prenuptial agreements turn out to be invalid for a number of reasons. Familiarity with those reasons may be useful to anyone contemplating a divorce after signing a prenuptial agreement.
Failing to adhere to formalities
All prenuptial agreements in New York must be in writing and signed by both parties prior to the divorce. The failure to adhere to all of these requirements may render the agreement invalid.
Failure to disclose assets
If one party conceals the amount of his or her assets and debts in order to lure the other party into signing the agreement, that party loses any right to enforce the prenuptial agreement. Concealment can include misleading statements about assets and liabilities or hiding the assets in offshore accounts or overseas banks.
Coercion and duress
A related ground for invalidating a prenuptial agreement is coercion by the party who now seeks to enforce the agreement. Coercion can involve threatening the other party with cancellation of the wedding in order to pressure the person into foregoing hiring an attorney to review the agreement.
Unfair and inequitable terms
A formidable reason for asking a judge to invalidate a prenuptial agreement is proof that the party seeking enforcement acted in an unfair manner or inserted inequitable terms into the agreement. In such cases, unfairness is often measured by economic situations in which the parties find themselves when the proceeding seeking enforcement reaches the court.
Conclusion. Anyone who is facing a lawsuit seeking enforcement of a prenuptial agreement, or a person who seeks to enforce one, may wish to consult an experienced divorce lawyer for an analysis of the facts and an estimate of the likelihood of prevailing in court.