Prenuptial agreements, also called prenups, used to be common only among the very rich and famous. As society has changed and divorce rates have climbed, however, more people than ever before consider these documents an important protection prior to marriage.
If you’re considering divorce and you executed a prenup before your wedding, you may wonder what impact it will have on your divorce. Whether you want it upheld or hope that the courts will throw it out, educating yourself about Alabama’s approach to prenuptial agreements could help you predict the likely actions by the courts in your case.
The courts will consider claims of duress or inadequate counsel
Generally speaking, both parties who sign a prenuptial agreement should have the document carefully reviewed by their respective attorneys. If one spouse signed without independent legal advice, that could be sufficient grounds for the courts to dismiss the prenup. After all, the average person may not fully understand the potential legal ramifications of a complex prenup.
Similarly, the courts will also reject a prenuptial agreement if one spouse provides evidence of signing under duress. Duress can arise from a number of situations and can compel a person to sign documents they otherwise would not. A common example is a situation where a pregnant woman has a partner demand a prenup before marriage.
Due to the pregnancy, she may not feel like she has any choice, as the alternative will be to rear her child alone as a single mother. Her husband-to-be can leverage that duress in his favor by choosing terms that she would never agree to if she weren’t worried about going through pregnancy and motherhood alone.
The prenup shouldn’t favor one spouse over the other
Another common reason for courts rejecting prenuptial agreements is the prenup clearly favors one spouse over the other. For example, a wealthy person marrying someone of lesser means could assign everything, from the home to income during the marriage, as separate property in a prenuptial agreement. The spouse with lower income and fewer assets may not receive any such protections. The language used in the prenup can also have a profound impact on the validity of the contract.
In these situations, the courts may deem the existing agreements to be invalid. It is unconscionable to uphold a prenup that will leave everything to one spouse and next to nothing to the other. The courts may also throw out or refuse to enforce prenuptial agreements with penalty clauses for issues like weight gain, in-law visits or other social/personal requirements.
A host of other issues, such as improper signatures, could also impact the validity of your prenuptial agreement. If you aren’t sure how the courts will rule on your prenuptial agreement, learn about how the law could affect you and the contract with your spouse.