Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

The do's and don'ts of signing a prenuptial agreement

In many different areas of Salt Lake City residents' lives, it is not necessarily the destination that matters most, but the journey to get to that destination. This concept applies with equal force to certain legal issues, as the way in which a legal matter is handled can make all the difference.

Last week, this blog discussed how effective a premarital agreement can be in satisfying individuals' wants and needs in the event of a divorce. However, just like there are certain kinds of provisions that cannot be included in a premarital agreement, there is a certain way premarital agreements must be handled in order for them to be enforceable.

As an initial matter, there are formalities that must be complied with during the negotiation process. First, the agreement must be read by each side so they understand what is and is not included in the agreement. Second, the agreement must be properly executed by the parties, meaning each side must sign the agreement properly for it to be binding.

Even a signed agreement can be challenged, however, if the circumstances of the signing show it was not voluntary. For instance, a dispute can later arise over whether a premarital agreement is enforceable if one of the parties to the agreement was pressured into entering it. A person might be coerced into signing the agreement or he or she may have only signed because the person was under duress at the time. There can also be important timing issues at stake, like when a party is asked to sign a premarital agreement shortly before walking down the aisle.

Ultimately, when legal issues involving the procedure for the agreement are raised, it is a fact intensive inquiry that looks at how the agreement came to be executed by the parties. Accordingly, while there are some general rules on what is and is not acceptable, the enforceability of each case will turn on the facts at issue.

Source: Findlaw, "Top 10 reasons a premarital agreement may be invalid," accessed on Aug. 6, 2016

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