Before people get married, they have a lot to think about. Many couples opt for prenuptial agreements that they sign at least a few months before the wedding.
These agreements outline the division of assets and responsibilities in the event of divorce. While they are generally valid in Pennsylvania, certain circumstances can render them invalid.
1. Lack of full financial disclosure
Pennsylvania has 5.4 marriages and 2.4 divorces per 1,000 people. For couples with prenups, one element of the agreement’s validity is the complete disclosure of financial information by both parties. Failure to provide accurate and transparent details about assets, debts and income may raise doubts about the fairness of the agreement. Courts may consider such omissions as grounds for invalidation.
2. Coercion or duress during the signing
Pennsylvania law emphasizes voluntary consent when entering into a prenuptial agreement. If one party can demonstrate that they signed the document under duress or coercion, this could invalidate the agreement. Situations involving undue pressure, manipulation or threats can undermine the voluntary nature of the agreement, casting doubt on its legitimacy.
3. Unconscionable terms
Courts in Pennsylvania scrutinize the terms of prenuptial agreements to ensure they are fair and not unconscionable. If the terms of the agreement are excessively one-sided or grossly unfair to one party, it may be unconscionable and, consequently, invalid. The court’s primary concern is to prevent situations where one spouse has an unjust and inequitable outcome.
4. Public policy considerations
Pennsylvania courts may invalidate prenuptial agreements that violate public policy. For example, courts may closely examine clauses that attempt to waive or limit spousal support or child custody arrangements.
Couples should approach the creation of these agreements with careful consideration.