For many Pennsylvania couples, entering into a prenuptial agreement is part of the wedding planning checklist. This is especially true for couples who marry at a later age, and who have already amassed significant levels of wealth prior to meeting their partner. A prenup is also attractive to couples who already have children from previous relationships, and want to preserve their ability to pass on wealth to those children in the event of a divorce. Regardless of the reasoning behind a prenup, the circumstances under which this legal contract is drafted can have a great deal of impact over whether the document is able to guide an eventual divorce settlement.
When a prenuptial agreement is not properly executed, either spouse can challenge the matter in court. One of the biggest mistakes that individuals make when creating a prenup is to fail to fully disclose all assets. If significant assets are left out of the disclosure process, whether by intent or accident, then the spouse who was unaware of the assets can ask a court to nullify the entire agreement. It is impossible to give up a claim to wealth that one doesn’t even know exists, and a spouse in this position could simply claim that he or she would not have signed the contract had the assets been properly disclosed.
Another common error lies in putting off the matter until just before the wedding. Once a wedding has been planned and announced, couples are under a great deal of pressure to move forward with their union. If a prenup is initiated during this period of time, a spouse could later claim that he or she was made to feel as though signing the agreement was a requirement for the wedding to take place. Contracts signed under duress can be difficult to enforce in a court of law.
For those in Pennsylvania who are preparing to marry, a prenuptial agreement can go a long way toward easing a divorce settlement, if that need should ever arise. In order to reap the benefits of a prenup, however, couples must ensure that all assets are fully disclosed within the prenup, and that sufficient time is allowed for both parties to review the agreement and seek independent legal counsel before signing. Until and unless those parameters are met, a prenup may not be as effective a tool as intended.
Source: Fortune, “What we can learn about prenups from the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Garner divorce“, Laura J. Vogel, July 4, 2015