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When can you challenge a prenuptial agreement?

Life can take us by surprise. We can meet someone and fall in love—only for that person to change and for the love to go away. The marriage might fall apart. If there’s no hope for the marriage, you might consider divorce. And then, if you signed a prenuptial agreement, you might feel trapped.

Prenuptial agreements have been on the rise recently, owing largely to millennials. Because millennials get married later in life than earlier generations, they tend to bring more assets into their marriages. And because many of them saw their parents get divorced, they may be more pragmatic about their marriages and the idea of the prenup. Still, the courts may not enforce all these prenuptial agreements.

Prenuptial agreements have limits

Delaware allows the use of premarital agreements, but the courts won’t necessarily follow the terms of a prenup just because it exists. There are certain limits on what prenups can cover, and there are circumstances that can make a prenup invalid. These include:

  • Any restriction placed on child support
  • You signed the agreement under duress
  • Your partner didn’t reveal his or her full finances
  • The terms are “unconscionable”
  • The marriage is annulled

If a prenup is valid, then the courts will follow its directions “without consideration.” This leaves your divorce subject to whatever terms you agreed to before you got married. The courts don’t need to see how your life might have changed over time. However, if you can show that your partner forced you to sign against your wishes or hid income or debts, you could have cause to challenge the prenup. It’s possible the court could throw it out and leave you to negotiate a new settlement.

Prenuptial agreements are supposed to be reasonable

Prenuptial agreements aren’t always fair, but they are generally supposed to be reasonable. If an agreement is not now—nor ever was—fair or reasonable, you may be able to challenge it in court and get the settlement you deserve.

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