Many Pennsylvania couples choose to sign prenuptial agreements before they become officially married. Unhappily for some of these couples, they may decide to end their marriage, and the terms of their prenuptial agreement suddenly seem harsh and unfair.
Can anything be done to undo the prenuptial agreement? The answer is “sometimes.” A more detailed answer depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the negotiation and execution of the agreement.
Pennsylvania law permits couples to agree to certain terms concerning each spouse’s right to property, claims for alimony, the manner of property and debt division, and similar matters before the marriage, but the conditions are strict.
First, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing if the state’s courts are going to enforce it. Second, both parties must sign the agreement before the wedding takes place. A prenuptial agreement that does not satisfy these requirements will not be enforced by Pennsylvania courts.
Void due to the circumstances of the negotiation and execution of the agreement
A court can invalidate a prenuptial agreement under two circumstances, even if it has been properly signed: proof that the spouse who signed the agreement was coerced, or the spouse who insisted that the other spouse sign the agreement made a false or fraudulent statement of material facts concerning assets and debts.
Generally speaking, coercion may be proved the spouse who wants the other spouse to sign the agreement made a threat against the signer or did not allow the other spouse enough time to review the agreement and have it reviewed by a qualified family attorney.
If one spouse fails to disclose all relevant information concerning the other spouses property and debts or a false or misleading statement was intended to convince the other party to sign the prenuptial agreement, it is considered fraud.
Solid advice from a knowledgeable divorce attorney
Anyone who has been asked to sign a prenuptial agreement should have the draft agreement reviewed by an experienced divorce attorney before it is signed.
Additionally, anyone who threatens that a prenuptial agreement will be enforced should seek the opinion of a knowledgeable attorney about the grounds for avoiding enforcement of the agreement.