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Could your premarital agreement be invalid?

Premarital agreements are no longer discussed in hushed tones these days -- they're fashionable among the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy alike. The change in attitude toward prenups has largely developed as a result of two factors: the rise of the entrepreneur in American and the number of people who are delaying their marriages until they're more financially stable. Both groups of people have things they want to protect if their marriages sour.

But, if you're relying on a prenup to keep your assets safe in a divorce, there are some things you need to know. Your prenup could be invalid if:

1. You pressured your spouse into signing.

The court will call foul on a prenup that was signed under duress. What kind of duress? The standards may vary a bit from state to state (or even judge to judge), but duress can be any kind of unreasonable or unconscionable pressure. For example, did your family pressure you into springing a prenup on your fiance after she already gave up her apartment, quit her job and moved halfway across the world to marry you? Did you hand your beloved the prenup to sign when he was drunk? Either could be a problem.

2. You lied about your assets when you made the agreement.

Did you fully disclose your holdings to your future spouse before the prenup was signed? If you held back any important information from your future spouse at the time the prenup was signed, that's a big issue and will likely invalidate it.

3. Your agreement is shocking, unrealistic or lopsided.

Maybe you thought it was perfectly reasonable to put a "health" clause in your agreement that obligates your spouse to maintain a healthy weight and work out three times a week, but most judges won't agree. Any unrealistic or invalid part of an agreement could be enough to invalidate the whole thing.

4. Your spouse didn't have any representation.

Finally, it's always important to make sure that everyone has experienced representation when they're reviewing the terms of a prenup. After all, it's a very important contract.

If you're concerned about the validity of a prenuptial agreement, it might be wise to talk to an attorney. If your spouse is in agreement, you may still have options to rectify the situation.

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