Many people, especially those with high-value assets to protect, enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage. You may have signed a prenup many years ago. Now that divorce is imminent, you need to know how your agreement affects important issues such as spousal support and property division.
One question many ask is whether it is possible to convince a court to declare a prenup invalid. Others may have questions about how to interpret a particular provision or apply it to current circumstances, which neither party may have foreseen at the time of the agreement.
Generally, Texas courts lean toward upholding a prenuptial agreement that meets the basic requirements of being in writing and signed by both parties. Someone who wishes to challenge a technically acceptable agreement will have to show the other party engaged in duress or fraudulent conduct.
Courts usually apply a fairly strict standard for determining duress. In many cases, psychological pressure will not rise to the required level. Even threats of calling off the marriage may not qualify, as this ultimatum still gives one the option of refusing to sign. When dealing with such a case, courts often closely analyze the total circumstances surrounding the signing.
If one party misrepresented material information, the agreement may be invalid. Material information consists of facts that would have influenced the other party’s decision to sign the prenup or not. Typically, such cases involve allegations that one party hid or misrepresented the state of his or her finances and factors that may affect them. However, even such an agreement can be valid if the court finds the other party actually uncovered the information in question from another source. A party may also sign a written waiver giving up the right to disclosure.
What a prenup covers
A Texas prenup can govern what happens to separate property and spousal support. It can also stipulate the community or separate status of assets that come into the marriage. However, it cannot set forth child support or require actions that violate the law or public policy.