California is a community property state, which can make divorce very stressful. Some spouses try to protect themselves from financial devastation during a divorce by negotiating a prenuptial agreement during their engagement.
Prenuptial agreements are valuable tools. They help couples establish realistic expectations for their relationships and can eliminate the embarrassment and expense of a litigated divorce. The terms that you set in the prenuptial agreement will guide the division of your property and potentially let you file an uncontested divorce.
Unfortunately, sometimes people change their minds about the terms they set in the prenuptial agreement because now they want more. Can your ex ask the courts to throw out or invalidate your prenuptial agreement?
Yes, there are situations in which marital agreements don’t hold up
In theory, a prenuptial agreement that does not include any illegal provisions should withstand a challenge in the California family courts. However, there are few circumstances in which even a perfectly legal agreement could face challenges.
For example, if your spouse signed without understanding the terms of the document or having a lawyer look over it on their behalf, they could use that to claim that they didn’t understand the document and its implications. The court might side with them in that scenario.
The same is true of a prenuptial agreement that does nothing for your spouse but only protects you. If the agreement only discusses your income and your assets while offering nothing of value to your spouse, a judge might view that as an unconscionable agreement and refuse to uphold it.
Finally, if your spouse can convince the courts that they signed while under duress, that could invalidate the agreement as well. An example might be your refusal to marry a woman pregnant with your child unless she signed the agreement first.
What if your ex wants to challenge the prenuptial agreement without much cause?
If none of those scenarios matches your own, you may think that your ex has no real reason to challenge the prenuptial agreement. However, they may view the situation differently.
Your attorney may be able to communicate with them to find out what issues in the document itself have led to the challenge. You may still be able to negotiate a divorce that does not involve litigation if you identify specific issues that have led to your ex’s unhappiness with the prenuptial agreement.
Understanding when the courts may not uphold a prenuptial agreement can help you when drafting one or when planning to refer to one in an upcoming divorce filing.