No couple expects their relationship to end, especially those who vow to enter into a marriage. But life is unexpected, and it is better to prepare for uncertainty than to go through difficulty in the future. This is why marrying couples create prenuptial agreements. This contract helps establish property division and financial obligations in case spouses decide to divorce.
While this event may or may not happen, parties must ensure the contract follows the requirements. Otherwise, the court may render the agreement invalid and unenforceable.
Reasons for invalidity
One of the parties may challenge the validity of the prenuptial agreement, called antenuptial agreement in Massachusetts, if any of the following circumstances exist:
- Not in writing: Massachusetts laws on prenuptial agreements require that the contract is in writing and notarized. Oral or other forms of prenuptial agreements are invalid since they have no clear terms and are therefore difficult to enforce.
- Existence of threat or coercion: Like any valid agreement, both parties must sign prenuptial contracts voluntarily. If there is proof that one of the parties was threatened or coerced to sign the agreement, the court will likely hold it invalid.
- Existence of fraud and dishonesty: Parties must disclose all necessary information for an effective agreement. Misleading the other party may force the court to invalidate the contract.
- Unfair and unreasonable: If the agreement terms leave one of the parties with insufficient property and maintenance to support themselves after the divorce, the court will find it unfair and unreasonable.
There may also be other circumstances that can affect the court’s determination of the agreement’s validity. For instance, while the state does not require parties to have legal representation, it is highly recommended to ensure that each party knows the impact of signing the contract and how it will affect their rights. If the court finds that a party signed the agreement without an attorney, they will look into it further to ensure a fair and reasonable settlement.
Ensuring the prenuptial agreement follows the law’s requirements saves couples from stress and additional costs during the divorce process.