When a marriage ends, a number of important issues must be settled during the ensuing divorce process. Marital assets and debts must be divided. Custody and parenting time with any minor children of the marriage must be determined, and whether or not support for the children and/or a spouse must be paid will have to be considered before the divorce can be finalized. If you entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage, many of those issues may have been addressed in the agreement. If you are not happy with how they were addressed in the agreement, you likely want to find a way out of abiding by the agreement. Because every divorce involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, you should consult directly with an experienced divorce attorney. In the meantime, a Murfreesboro divorce attorney provides some general information about when, and how, a party to a prenuptial agreement can challenge that agreement.
What Is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
Also referred to as a pre-marital or antenuptial agreement, a prenuptial agreement is a legally enforceable agreement that is entered into by a couple in contemplation of marriage that creates a plan for how issues will be handled in the event of divorce or the death of a spouse. A prenuptial agreement must be finalized before the couple marries and will become effective as soon as the parties are legally married. A properly drafted and executed prenuptial agreement can be 100 percent enforceable in the State of Tennessee.
What Issues Does a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?
The primary purpose of most pre-nuptial agreements is used to determine how assets will be divided in the event of divorce or death. For example, the parties might agree that a separate asset purchased prior to the marriage (such as a home) will become a marital asset after the marriage is finalized. Conversely, the agreement might make it clear that business assets acquired during the marriage will remain the property of one spouse in the event of a divorce. Spousal support, or alimony, can also be addressed in a pre-nuptial agreement. This might entail one party waiving the right to request spousal support in the event of a divorce or it could set forth an alimony schedule based on factors such as the length of the marriage and/or the number of children born during the marriage. Note that issues relating to custody and/or support of the minor children of the marriage cannot be determined ahead of time. As a general rule, courts favor enforcing prenuptial agreements as long as the court is convinced that the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily and the terms are clear and fair to both parties.
Can You Get Out of a Prenuptial Agreement?
At its most basic, a prenuptial agreement is simply a contract between the parties. Like any other contract, it is possible for a party to the contract to challenge the validity and/or enforceability of the contract. To challenge a prenuptial agreement you must have legal grounds on which to base that challenge. In Tennessee, you might challenge the validity of a prenuptial agreement based on:
- Failure to disclose assets and/or the value of assets – each party must make a full and fair disclosure of all assets before signing a pre-nuptial agreement. If a party hides assets, or fails to disclose the true value of assets, the agreement may be declared invalid because the other party did not enter into the agreement knowingly.
- Fraud – this could refer to anything from lying to a party about what they are signing to falsifying a signature. Fraud also prevents a party from entering into the agreement knowingly.
- Coercion – usually refers to persuasion based on the use of force or the threat of force which means the party did not enter into the agreement voluntarily.
- Duress – if violence, or the threat of violence, was used to get a party to sign the agreement, the agreement will not be upheld because it was not entered into voluntarily.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about challenging a prenuptial agreement in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.