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Defeating a prenuptial agreement after a divorce

Many couples sign prenuptial agreements before they formalize their marriage, and many of these couples have at least one party who has been previously married. More significantly, these marriages often have at least one spouse who has accumulated a large amount of assets before the marriage. While many prenuptial agreements work as planned if a couple separates, a significant number of divorces result in circumstances that the couple did not anticipate when they signed their prenuptial agreement.

These unanticipated circumstances often lead to the question: Can a prenuptial agreement be successfully challenged?

Basic rules, per the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

In 1994, Utah adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, or the UPAA, a statute that contains provisions for drafting and enforcing premarital agreements in Utah and other states that have adopted the act. The easiest way to defeat a premarital agreement after the marriage is to demonstrate that one or both parties failed to satisfy the formal requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement.

The first formal requirement is that the agreement must be in writing. Oral prenuptial agreements are not enforceable. The next requirement states that both parties must sign the agreement before the marriage. A couple’s failure to satisfy the requirements of a written agreement that is signed by both parties before the wedding may invalidate the agreement.

Role of fraud and duress on invalidation

The UPAA requires that both parties make complete financial disclosures before the document is signed. If one party makes material misrepresentations about his or her financial situation, the document may be declared to be fraudulent and therefore unenforceable. If the party who is trying to enforce the agreement can be shown to have coerced the other party into signing the agreement or signing without an opportunity to read it or seek the advice of an attorney, the agreement may likewise be declared unenforceable.

As can be seen, the enforcement of a prenuptial agreement can be an arduous and complex process. Anyone who is considering a court action to enforce a prenuptial agreement or who is the subject of such a suit may wish to consult an experienced divorce attorney for an evaluation of the facts, legal arguments that support the desired outcome, and an estimate of the likelihood of prevailing. To speak with an attorney, please call Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates at 801-475-8800.

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