Can You Cancel a Prenup?
Most people aren't thinking of divorce as they walk down the aisle on their wedding day. Yet, roughly half of all marriages in the United States end with the help of a divorce attorney. Perhaps that's why more and more couples are signing prenuptial agreements, working out the arrangements ahead of time instead of waiting for reality to unexpectedly come knocking at their door.
Wondering how to cancel a prenuptial agreement or need help filing for divorce in New York? Contact MONTEFUSCO | PAMMER, our experienced divorce lawyers in Suffolk County will fight tirelessly and advocate zealously in the courtroom at a trial.
Prenuptial Agreements: Expectations Versus Reality
Divorces can be messy. There are many factors to consider-incomes, assets, child support obligations, business affairs, spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) payments. The result is often a long, uncertain process. Couples sign a prenup when they want to clearly establish the rights of each party before getting married. A contract allows them to secure their personal assets, protect their business, and assure their income.
At least that's the theory. Many assume that by signing on the dotted lines, they've settled the issue. That's not always true. A prenuptial agreement is a binding legal contract, but there are several reasons it may not hold up in court. Theoretically, the agreement sets the ground rules for the divorce, should things progress that far. In reality, the law is complex and many factors could nullify the contract.
Prenuptial Agreements in New York
To make matters more complicated, divorce law differs between states. Filing for divorce in New York is different from filing for divorce elsewhere in the country.
Whether you're signing a prenup or trying to nullify a prenup, the attorneys at MONTEFUSCO | PAMMER can help you cut through the fine print and make sense of the legalese. Call us at (631) 801-0007 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Divorce Lawyers in Suffolk County.
How to Nullify a Prenuptial Agreement
The first step toward nullifying a prenup is contacting a divorce lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you navigate through the complexities of Domestic Relations Law. That being said, it's always good to familiarize yourself with the basics. Here are the top six reasons your prenuptial agreement may be invalid:
There was no written agreement.
It's not enough to have a verbal agreement, say, discussing the details one night over dinner. Even with all the witnesses in the world, an oral agreement is invalid. For a prenup to hold up in court, you must actually write out the provisions and sign on the dotted line. No written contract, no agreement.
Finally, and this may sound obvious, but both parties must sign the agreement in order for it to take effect. If one party fails to sign, there is no agreement.
The agreement contains invalid or unconscionable provisions.
Prenuptial agreements cannot violate existing law, particularly when it comes to matters like child support The law does now allow either spouse to renounce their duties, even if both sides agreed when they signed the contract. In addition, the law recognizes the concept of fairness. Let's say one spouse faces severe financial hardship, while the other looks forward to a bright and prosperous future. Even if both parties agreed to the arrangement at the outset, the court may decide that the contract, as it stands, is invalid, particularly if circumstances have changed drastically since it was signed. In other words, the court may not uphold an agreement that is grossly unfair.
- There was pressure to sign.
Both parties must enter into a contract of their own free will; otherwise, it is not a valid legal agreement. Any coercion negates the agreement. If anyone pressured you into signing the agreement, whether it was your spouse, their lawyer, or their family, the court will not recognize the document. Take one example: One partner threatens to cancel or postpone the wedding at the last minute unless the other agrees to sign immediately. That could be considered a form of pressure. Someone who is more concerned about the financial and social impact of a canceled wedding than the legal implications of a prenuptial agreement may not be in the best position to deal with the future ramifications of their actions.
- One party provided false or incomplete information.
Typically, when you sign a prenup, you reveal your income, the value of your assets, and the extent of your liabilities. Failing to disclose important information, or lying about it, puts the other party at a disadvantage. When the time comes for a divorce, that could negate the contract. Since people sign agreements based on the information they have at the time, providing false or incomplete details impedes their ability to make an informed decision.
- There was no time to read or consider the terms.
You must give the other party time to read through the contract and consult a lawyer. Present a prenup out of the blue, a few days before the wedding, and the other party has reason to challenge the agreement. Typically, both parties should have enough time before signing the agreement to decide whether they need legal help, to find a lawyer, to obtain advice, and to consider the advice for themselves. How much time is enough time? A few weeks should be sufficient, but that depends entirely on the complexity of the agreement and the circumstances. If the person receiving the document was on vacation in the Caribbean when it was sent, or if one spouse's finances are unusually complex, then more time might be required.
- The parties had inadequate representation.
Most people need the help of a lawyer in order to understand a complex legal document. Without the benefit of legal advice, there's no way to determine whether the person understood the terms of the agreement. Not only that, but when it comes to married couples, each partner should have their own attorney. That's called having independent representation. If one party didn't have their own attorney to advise them on the prenup, they may have cause for nullification.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Nullify a Prenup Agreement?
Yes. Prenuptial agreements are complex. Canceling them requires a great deal of expertise. Moreover, the other side is sure to fight tooth and nail to keep the contract in place. You need someone who will advocate for your right to receive a fair settlement at the negotiating table and in the courtroom, if necessary.
In many cases, it will be necessary. That means hiring a lawyer with a great deal of trial experience. If you're wondering how to get spousal support/maintenance in NY, how to get custody of your child, or how to revoke any other provision of your prenup, then you absolutely need expert legal representation.
There's no reason to accept an unsatisfactory settlement. If litigation is necessary, the divorce lawyers at MONTEFUSCO | PAMMER in Suffolk County won't be afraid to pursue it. We'll be tireless advocates at the negotiating table and zealous champions in the courtroom. Fill out our online form or give us a call at (631) 801-0007 for a free consultation with one of our experienced trial attorneys.