Let Our Orange County Divorce Lawyers Help You Challenge the Terms of Your Prenup
As a general rule, prenuptial agreements are enforceable in California. However, there are exceptions, and spouses in high-net-worth couples who find themselves facing unfavorable consequences due to the terms of a prenup should discuss their options with an experienced attorney.
At Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy, our Orange County high-net-worth divorce lawyers have extensive experience representing spouses in divorces involving prenuptial agreements. We have fought to enforce our clients’ prenups, and we have fought to protect our clients against unfair, unconscionable and illegal contract terms. If you have questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact us promptly, and one of our Irvine divorce attorneys will be happy to meet with you in confidence to evaluate your prenuptial agreement’s enforceability.
Commonly Enforced Prenup Terms
The purpose of a prenup is to clarify the financial rights of each party and the division of property upon the dissolution of the marriage. As such, the terms of most prenups generally are restricted to financial matters. Some of the most common provisions in prenups concern:
- Identification of each party’s assets
- Definitions of separate property and community property
- Management of marital bills, expenses, and debts
- Payment of educational expenses
- Alimony payments
- Mediation or arbitration requirements
Regardless of the terms in a particular prenup, the guiding principle is that the prenup should concern primarily financial matters and be entered into in good faith and with full disclosure.
5 Grounds to Challenge a Prenuptial Agreement in California
Under California law, there are various issues that can render a prenuptial agreement unenforceable. While some of these issues can render a prenup unenforceable in its entirety, others will prevent the enforcement of a specific provision under an otherwise enforceable agreement:
1. Execution Under Duress, Manipulation or Fraud
In order to be legally enforceable, a prenuptial agreement must be entered into voluntarily by both parties. If either party signed the agreement against his or her will due to duress, manipulation or fraud, then the entire agreement may be invalid.
A prenuptial agreement can also be invalid if it is determined to be “unconscionable.” In order to be considered unconscionable, a prenuptial agreement must be overtly one-sided, and the spouse seeking to challenge the agreement must have not:
- Received full disclosure of his or her fiancé’s assets and liabilities prior to signing the agreement;
- Waived his or her right to receive a full and accurate asset and liability disclosure; and,
- Had a reasonable opportunity to discover his or her fiancé’s assets and liabilities prior to signing.
3. Lack of Mental Capacity
A prenuptial agreement is not enforceable if, at the time of signing, one party lacked the mental capacity required to make an informed and conscious decision. In addition to mental illnesses and other health conditions, alcohol and drug intoxication can establish lack of capacity in some cases.
4. Lack of Legal Representation
By law, when signing a prenuptial agreement in California, both parties must have their attorneys present, or they must have previously waived their right to legal representation in a separate document. If either party was denied the opportunity to have legal representation, this can render their prenuptial agreement unenforceable.
5. Illegal Terms
California law also prohibits prenuptial agreements from containing certain terms. For example, waivers of child support and child custody rights generally will not be enforced. Likewise, contract terms that are viewed as “promoting” divorce may be deemed unenforceable as well.
Schedule a Confidential Initial Divorce Consultation in at Our Irvine Office
Are you preparing for a divorce and wondering if your prenup is legally enforceable? If so, one of our Irvine high-net-worth divorce attorneys would be happy to help. To get started with a confidential initial consultation with an Irvine divorce lawyer, call us at 949-474-0800 or request an appointment online today.