A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people, before marriage, to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. It’s a useful tool in pre-planning the division of assets during a divorce, such that couples can avoid conflicts and lengthy litigation.
Contrary to popular beliefs, prenups are not only for the rich and famous. As more people get into marriages with personal wealth and assets, it’s becoming popular to have a prenuptial agreement.
Pennsylvania uses the term premarital agreement to describe prenups, and the state’s law regards them as legally binding as any other contract. It’s one of the few states that uphold prenuptial agreements, under circumstances that may not hold in other states.
There are only a few exceptions when premarital agreements may not be enforceable in Pennsylvania. However, before you sign a prenup, it’s advisable to involve divorce lawyers in Delaware County PA, who understand the intricacies of family law. Otherwise, you may trap yourself in an agreement you can’t reverse or find yourself in one that’s invalid.
When are Premarital Agreements Unenforceable?
Pennsylvania law has rules guiding prenuptial agreements. Generally, it presumes that a prenup is valid except a party challenging it proves that an act or circumstance makes it invalid. Conducts and circumstances that can make a court invalidate a prenuptial agreement include:
- When one party didn’t sign the agreement voluntarily. If that person can prove he/she was under coercion or duress at the time, the contract won’t be legally binding.
- If the agreement is unconscionable or unfair, because
- One party didn’t make an equitable and reasonable disclosure of assets or debts before signing the agreement
- The spouse who’s challenging the contract didn’t expressively waive in writing the right to receive disclosure of the spouse’s assets
- The defrauded spouse didn’t know about the other spouse’s finances.
If a challenging spouse has clear and convincing evidence that any of the above conducts are true, the agreement becomes invalid. A prenuptial agreement can’t be unconscionable or severely unfair towards one party.
For instance, a prenup may prohibit alimony after a divorce. But if the court discovers that it would leave the other party destitute, the agreement may not be enforced. A judge will enforce a reasonable prenup that is fair, void of fraud, misrepresentation, or coercion. If you’re divorcing and think your prenuptial agreement is unfair, contact divorce lawyers in Delaware County, PA.
What a Prenuptial Agreement Can Cover
A premarital agreement can address several personal issues that lead to conflict in divorces. Although couples can tailor it to suit their unique needs, prenups generally cover the following:
- Each spouse’s rights to individual properties brought into the marriage
- Division of assets and debts if a divorce occurs
- Each spouse’s right to receive alimony
- Each couple’s right to use the gifts or inheritance of the other
- Right to spend or buy assets during the marriage
- Both spouse’s management of a family business
A prenup can’t resolve child custody or child support issues, and the religious upbringing of children. Also, it can’t address alimony a spouse will receive during the divorce process.
Prenuptial agreements help to predetermine property division in case of a divorce. In Pennsylvania, these agreements are legally binding as any business contract, except a court proves them invalid. If you’re unsure about the validity of your prenup, contact divorce lawyers in Delaware County, PA.