Many couples in the Louisville area sign prenuptial agreements before they marry. While such agreements often appear to be the antithesis of the romantic intentions that caused couples to marry, such agreements are widely acknowledged to benefit both parties in the event that they should decide to end their marriage. Many people put the prenuptial agreement out of their minds after the document is signed, but the approaching end of a marriage may cause some painful reflection on why the agreement was accepted in the first place. Persons entertaining such doubts often wonder whether a prenuptial agreement can be invalidated as part of the divorce proceeding. The answer, like so many legal issues, depends on the facts of the case.
Were the formalities followed?
The Kentucky legislature has used the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA) to establish both formal and substantive requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement. The formal requirement are straightforward. First, the agreement must be in writing. Second, the agreement must be signed by both parties before the wedding. Third, both parties must be afforded an opportunity to read and understand the agreement before they sign it. In most cases, the omission of any of these formal requirements will threaten the enforceability of the agreement.
Fairness and full disclosure
Perhaps the most common basis for a successful challenge to a prenuptial agreement is the failure of the party who seeks enforcement to make a full disclosure of his or her financial situation. The UPAA requires both parties to make a complete and timely disclosure of their assets and liabilities. In addition, the UPAA explicitly forbid either party from attempting to coerce the other party to sign the agreement and reject any reservations the person may have. Proof of fraud or coercion will usually provide sufficient grounds from preventing the enforcement of the agreement. In this regard, both parties must be given the opportunity to submit a draft of the agreement to an attorney for an independent review. The failure to allow the other spouse the opportunity to obtain a lawyer’s review is another reason that prenuptial agreements are frequently invalidated.
Invalidating a prenuptial agreement is a complex legal matter. The advice and counsel of an experienced divorce attorney should be obtained before deciding whether to challenge the validity of a Kentucky prenuptial agreement.