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How Does State Law Invalidate Prenuptial Agreements?

The Collin County Law Group Sept. 27, 2019

For various reasons, a judge may decide that a prenuptial agreement cannot be enforced and rule that some of the agreement or even all of it is invalid. It may not always be clear if a prenuptial agreement contains unlawful provisions, and it may take litigation to resolve the matter. However, Texas law does spell out some specific ways a prenuptial agreement can be considered unenforceable.

According to state law, one spouse may try to enforce the provisions of a prenuptial, but the other spouse may bring action against enforcement on several grounds. A spouse could attempt to prove that he or she signed the document under duress, that the signature was not voluntary. A spouse might also contend that the agreement contains unconscionable provisions that force the spouse to give up certain rights.

State law also prohibits enforcement of an agreement that is drafted deceptively. For instance, a spouse may not list all assets and property that should be revealed in the agreement. Under this scenario, the other spouse is signing an accord that does not contain accurate information. A judge would likely conclude the innocent spouse was tricked into signing an agreement that omits key information.

In some circumstances, one spouse may not fully understand what he or she is signing. One spouse may be adept at handling finances while the other spouse is left to simply trust the judgment of the informed spouse. Still, this disparity can disadvantage the spouse who does not understand the financial and property obligations of the other spouse. This disparity, if found to unfairly disadvantage one spouse, can invalidate the agreement.

It is still up to the court to determine if a provision is in fact unconscionable, and it may take the advice of a professional family law attorney to understand if your agreement is possibly invalid. Be aware that this article is only offering general information and not legal counsel for your situation.