Most experienced divorce attorneys in Northern New Jersey and elsewhere agree that a prenuptial agreement provides excellent protection from unnecessary stress and anxiety if the marriage eventually fails. Sometimes, however, a prenuptial agreement will have the opposite effect: imposing a burdensome and often intolerable financial situation on one of the spouses.
In such cases, one spouse may wish fervently to terminate the agreement, while the other spouse will wish with equal fervor to enforce the agreement according to its literal terms. Escaping from a burdensome prenuptial agreement is not easy, but in some cases, it is the only remedy.
New Jersey adopted the Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act in 1988. This statute states the grounds on which the state’s courts will enforce the statute and the grounds that may render the agreement invalid.
All premarital agreements must be in writing, with a statement of both spouses’ financial assets attached, and signed by both parties prior to the wedding. The failure to observe these formalities will mean that the agreement is not enforceable. However, most pre-nuptial agreements are drafted by experienced attorneys, and these formalities are rarely omitted.
Other lines of attack
Failure to observe the formalities is not the only method of attempting to escape from an unfair premarital agreement. These grounds for proving that the agreement is unenforceable are set forth in the statute. The burden of proving that the agreement is unenforceable rests upon the shoulders of the party challenging the agreement’s enforceability.
These additional grounds include:
- Proving that the party was coerced into signing the agreement
- The agreement was unconscionable at the time it was executed
- The party challenging the agreement was not provided a full and fair disclosure of the financial situation of the other party
- The party challenging the agreement did not waive the right to receive this information
- The party challenging the agreement was not given the opportunity to have the agreement reviewed by an independent legal counsel
Sound legal advice
As may be inferred from the foregoing discussion, successfully challenging a premarital agreement is not easy. Assembling and presenting persuasive evidence requires the abilities of a skilled trial attorney. Anyone considering a challenge to a prenuptial agreement would do well to consult an experienced divorce attorney before commencing a lawsuit.