Escaping from an unfair prenuptial agreement in Virginia

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2024 | High-Asset Divorce |

Prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly common. Virginia has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, bringing its law into conformity with many other states. Unfortunately, many individuals have discovered that the terms of the prenup agreement that they signed prior to the wedding have turned out to be unfair or financially intolerable. Divorce attorneys are facing a common question with greater frequency: how can I escape from my prenup?

It depends

 A prenup should not be viewed as a prison cell from which there is no escape. However, the conditions that will support a court order declaring the agreement – or a specific section of the agreement – to be invalid depending on the circumstances of the case.

Grounds for finding a prenup to be invalid

Here is a summary of the common grounds for invalidating a prenup:

  • The parties failed to execute the agreement in writing before the wedding.
  • The party against whom enforcement is sought did not sign the agreement voluntarily.
    • Coercion and fraud are the two most common grounds for finding a prenup to be unconscionable.
    • A threat to abandon a promise to marry is also considered a form of coercion.
  • The person against whom enforcement is sought relied on false or fraudulent information provided by the spouse seeking enforcement of the agreement.
  • The agreement was unconscionable before it was signed because the spouse seeking enforcement did not make a fair and reasonable disclosure of his or her assets and liabilities.
  • The agreement has turned out to be unconscionable in operation or effect.

Disputes over the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement must usually be resolved by a judge after a hearing based evidence provided by the parties. Because such cases can be both complex and contentious.