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Can I nullify my prenuptial agreement?

One of the reasons why the divorce process, asset division, alimony and child support exist is to prevent a less-moneyed person from getting trapped in a toxic relationship due to financial reasons. In this respect, it might seem -- in cases where the spouses have entered into a prenuptial agreement -- that the less-moneyed spouse will experience a reduction in the benefits of asset division, alimony and child support.

However, this is not the case. In fact, prenups that seek to take advantage of a less-moneyed spouse might not be valid. You might be able to nullify such a prenup in court.

Do you feel like your prenuptial agreement took advantage of you? For example, perhaps your spouse's family pressured you into signing a document last minute, and you felt like you had no choice. Let's take a look at some ways you might be able to nullify it.

Situations when spouses can nullify their prenups

Prenuptial agreements created by competent California family law attorneys will often withstand the scrutiny of a family law court. Nevertheless, there are also numerous circumstances in which spouses can nullify their prenups:

-- The agreement wasn't in writing: You must formalize your prenuptial agreement in writing for it to be valid.

-- Improperly signed: You must appropriately execute your prenuptial agreement for it to be valid.

-- Your spouse pressured you: Perhaps your spouse or your spouse's family pressured you into signing a prenuptial agreement against your best interests. This could be grounds for nullification.

-- You never read the document: Did your spouse ask you to sign a prenuptial agreement without reading it? Maybe he or she gave you the last page of a longer document and said that you needed to sign it, but you didn't understand what you were getting into.

-- You didn't have time to consider the document: Imagine your spouse's lawyer gave you a prenup to sign just a few days before your marriage. There's no way that you could have enough time for a property review by yourself and your attorneys.

-- Unlawful provisions and clauses: Courts may choose to invalidate an entire prenuptial agreement if it contains invalid terms. Alternatively, courts might strike specific provisions from the prenuptial agreement if they're unlawful.

-- Inaccurate or incomplete information: The spouses must provide one another with a complete and accurate disclosure of their assets, incomes and liabilities before signing a prenuptial agreement.

-- You didn't have a lawyer: Spouses who sign prenuptial agreements without legal representation are at risk of getting taken advantage of. If you signed your prenup without a lawyer, the prenup might not be valid.

-- The agreement was unconscionable: If your prenuptial agreement is so unfair that it violates all reasonable sense of fairness, and if it results in severe financial hardship, it could be deemed "unconscionable" and therefore invalid.

Fight your prenuptial agreement in court

California spouses who have entered into unfair or unlawful prenuptial agreements may not have to follow their terms. By speaking with a competent family law attorney, you can evaluate the legality of your prenuptial agreement to determine if you should try to challenge it in court.

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