What constitutes an unfair premarital agreement in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2022 | Family Law |

In Virginia, any divorce can be difficult. However, when there are substantial assets at stake, there is likely to be a greater amount of disagreement and dispute over how property will be divided, support will be paid and other issues. Even if there is a premarital agreement in place, that is not necessarily the final word. For the person who signed the prenuptial agreement, there are factors that could mean it is unenforceable. This is also a concern for the person who had more assets and wanted the agreement before the marriage. It is imperative to have professional assistance in these complex situations.

When might the premarital agreement be deemed unfair?

The court will look at the agreement and, based on the law, decide if it is unconscionable meaning it is unfair. If it is found to be an unfair agreement, it can be nullified. This goes beyond a circumstance in which the person entered into the agreement unwillingly. Of course, there are cases in which a person with vast assets wanted the agreement signed before the marriage and coerced the other party to sign it. Perhaps there were implied threats that without it, the marriage would not take place at all. The other person could have been deprived legal counsel to look at the agreement. For unconscionability, there are different factors.

If the person who signed the agreement did not know the property and financial obligations of the other party, this could be sufficient to say it was unfair. For example, if the person who had the bulk of the assets did not inform the other person of bank accounts, investments, real estate and other items of value, then this could be a reason to challenge the validity of the agreement. In some cases, the person who signed the agreement will waive the right to disclosure. If that did not occur, this too could mean the agreement is invalid. The court will decide whether the agreement is unconscionable based on the law.

Challenging or defending a premarital agreement can be difficult

A high-asset divorce is frequently complicated and contentious. If a person entered the marriage with the bulk of the assets and is concerned about a premarital agreement being called into question or a person signed the agreement and feels as if he or she was taken advantage of, it is important to be aware of how to handle these cases. For guidance with defending or challenging a premarital agreement, consulting with those experienced in all areas of family law can be crucial.