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Circumstances that can invalidate prenups

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2018 | Property Division |

Ohio couples generally sign prenuptial agreements to establish how to divide property and finances in the event of a divorce. However, this does not mean that a prenup is fullproof. There are circumstances that can cause a court to invalidate parts of a prenuptial agreement, either at the time of filing, or sometime down the road during a divorce proceeding. 

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, a court might choose not to enforce a prenuptial agreement for a number of reasons. If a court discovers an agreement was performed under duress or influence, or if fraud is present, or if something was misrepresented, the agreement is unlikely to be enforced. Additionally, a judge may look at the span of time between when an agreement is made and the date of the wedding. Courts may be unlikely to enforce agreements made on the eve of the wedding itself.

The Findlaw website details additional factors that can invalidate a prenup. For example, judges will examine agreements to see if they provide fiscal incentives for divorce. Judges also scrutinize prenuptial agreements for personal stipulations that dictate how a spouse may behave. These provisions can include information on how to rear children, where the holidays can be spent, governing provisions with relatives, and chores a spouse must perform. Such provisions are typically seen as frivolous by courts and are not enforced.

Additionally, a prenuptial agreement cannot compel either spouse or both of them to do something illegal or anything contrary to public policy. A judge may strike down parts of the agreement or even the entire document if such provisions are discovered. A prenup may also not include stipulations on child support, child custody, or visitation rights in the event of a divorce if those provisions run counter to Ohio state law. 

Basically, prenups work well in governing how property and assets are to be distributed, such as distinguishing between separate and marital property, protecting an estate plan, spell out inheritance provisions for children from a previous relationship, or establish how property is to be distributed to a spouse if the other spouse dies. It is generally when prenups are used to regulate personal behavior or to supersede state law that they may be challenged and invalidated.


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