Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

When will a prenuptial agreement not be enforced?

Most Salt Lake City residents have signed off on a contract without actually reading it first at some point or another in their lives. Sometimes this might occur when someone accepts the terms and conditions on a website. On other occasions, a person might be presented with a written contract, but they proceed to sign it in interest of time without reviewing it.

Often, the fact the person did not review the contract first will not let them avoid the terms of the contract. The individual's signature may bind them to the terms, as they were expected to read it first.

However, this might not always be the case. For example, when prenuptial agreements are presented to a person with little time before a wedding and the person signs it without reading it, it can pose serious questions later on about whether the agreement is enforceable.

As discussed recently in this blog, prenuptial agreements can be an effective way to avoid a future dispute over property division and other issues in the event of a divorce. However, there can be questions as to whether an agreement is enforceable if it was not executed properly.

To begin, the contract has to be signed voluntarily by both sides. Accordingly, if one side was forced into signing it or did not voluntarily consent to it, then the agreement might be held unenforceable.

Similarly, if a party did not know the other side's financial condition, there may be fraud that prevents the agreement from being enforced. If a spouse hides his or her true assets, for example, there may not be the disclosure that is necessary for the agreement to be upheld.

Ultimately, both sides should have a full opportunity to review a prenuptial agreement and consult with an attorney before it is signed. Otherwise, questions can arise about whether the agreement should be enforced in a divorce.

Source: Utah Legislature, "Chapter 8: Uniform Premarital Agreement Act," accessed on Nov. 5, 2016

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