How to make sure that your prenuptial agreement is enforceable

Despite the high rate of divorce in the United States, many of us enter into marriage thinking that we’re going to beat the odds. This is a good attitude to have, of course. If you felt otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be getting married in the first place.

Nonetheless, many couples are choosing to introduce some extra protection when tying the knot, and that protection comes in the form of a prenuptial agreement. Such documents were once considered to be only for the wealthy. But more Americans are realizing that even if you aren’t rich, you may still have assets you want to protect.

If you are planning to draft a prenuptial agreement before the big day, there are some important things to keep in mind. Although they are signed, legal documents, prenups are not always considered enforceable. They are often challenged during divorce and are sometimes thrown out.

In order to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, your prenuptial agreement needs to meet several criteria. Two of the most important criteria are that it needs to be fair and entered into freely by both parties.

If you are asking your fiancé to sign a prenuptial agreement, there are several things you can do to ensure that he or she cannot claim to have signed it under duress or pressure. These include:

  • Introducing the prenuptial agreement long before the wedding (at least six months or more, if possible)
  • Making sure that both you and your betrothed are each represented by an attorney
  • Giving your betrothed adequate time to discuss the terms with his or her attorney
  • Negotiating the terms before signing, if negotiations are requested
  • Having both parties sign the document in front of witnesses

A prenuptial agreement must also be considered fair if it is to be enforceable. Property division cannot be so one-sided as to leave one spouse financially destitute, for example.

If you want to learn more about what your prenuptial agreement should and needs to include, please visit the prenuptial agreements page on our website. If drafted correctly, a prenup can be a valuable way to save time, money and headache during divorce. If not, it may just become another item of dispute.

Source: Allen Publishing, “Prenuptial Bliss: Negotiate Your Agreement Well Before Wedding Day,” June 20, 2014

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