People often look at a prenuptial agreement as if it is some sort of ironclad agreement that will stand no matter what. Both people signed it, after all. Doesn't it have to stand up in court?
Not always. Never assume that you cannot dispute a prenup -- or that your spouse will not dispute one that you actually wanted to stand. It happens all the time. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Your spouse pressured you into it
The only way to sign a prenup is when it's what you truly want, when you're freely making that decision for yourself. Any outside pressure can change your thinking and may make you act against your will.
For example, perhaps you said you did not want to sign it and you did not think it was fair. Then your spouse sat you down with their entire family and had them tell you to sign it. It felt like an intervention, you felt overwhelmed and humiliated, and you signed it just to get out of that room.
2. You never thought about it because you didn't have time
Time is critical. The date you signed the prenup and the date you got married are of the utmost importance. If they're too close, you can dispute it on the grounds that you could not read it over and think about it properly. This could also show that you faced outside pressure or that you signed it under duress.
Maybe your spouse knew you didn't want to sign, for instance. They waited until the night before the wedding. With all the guests in town and all of that money spent, they got out the prenup and said they wouldn't get married unless you signed. That's an incredible amount of pressure, and you signed it without reading it.
3. Your spouse lied or kept information from you
Your spouse has to give you honest information. If they lied to get you to sign or to influence your decision, you can use that as a reason to claim the document is invalid.
For instance, maybe your spouse owned a business and lied to you about the value. This influenced you to sign away all rights to that value, even though you otherwise may have had a right to the increase in value over the years. Sharing accurate financial information is important in a marriage and when drafting a prenup.
Your next move
So, do you think that you have an invalid prenup as you head toward divorce? Make sure you know everything you can about your options to protect yourself. You may be able to contest the document and ask the court to throw it out.