Most competent Florida divorce attorneys will urge their clients to sign an appropriate premarital agreement, especially if the new couple will possess significant assets. However, when a marriage sours and a divorce looms, one of the signatories to the premarital agreement may discover that the agreement is oppressive and unfair. What if any resources are available to avoid enforcement of an unfair and oppressive agreement?
The quick answer
Florida provides several grounds for invalidating a prenuptial agreement. Some of these requirements are easy to prove, and others can be very difficult.
The most basic reason for challenging a prenuptial agreement is the failure of the parties to follow the formalities required by Florida law. All prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties before the marriage is formalized. Oral prenuptial agreements are not enforceable. Likewise, the absence of one signature will also invalidate the agreement.
Fraud, duress and unconscionability
Even if all of the formalities were followed before the marriage, a party who views the agreement as fraudulent or unfair may still have solid grounds to have the agreement declared to be unenforceable.
The most common reason to persuade a judge to declare a prenuptial agreement invalid is fraud or unconscionable conduct. If the party attempting to enforce the agreement failed to make a full financial disclosure before the agreement was signed, the court may rule that the agreement was obtained by fraud. If the party attempting enforcement threatened the other party with a financial penalty, the court may fine that the agreement was obtained by coercion. Other forms of fraud, such as concealing debts or assets, or misrepresenting a person’s financial status, may also provide grounds for declaring the premarital agreement invalid.
Anyone who finds themselves party to an unfair or oppressive premarital agreement may wish to consult an experienced divorce attorney for advice on whether the agreement can be successfully challenged.