Before you got married, you and your partner may have come to the decision that creating a prenuptial agreement would be a wise move. These legal contracts can provide a certain level of protection for either spouse should there be a divorce later. Sometimes, however, the agreements that seemed like a good idea before marriage may not sound so great when it comes time to separate. Here’s some important information about whether or not a prenuptial agreement can be disputed in Washington.
Prenuptial Agreements Are Contracts
A prenuptial is a contract like any other, and it must meet certain legal standards to be considered valid in the state of Washington. For instance, it must be a written document, as verbal agreements of this type are not considered valid. The document must be signed by both parties before the wedding, and it must be signed willingly and not under duress or coerced in any way.
Being pressured into signing your rights away as a spouse will not be considered valid in a court of law. Although you do not need an attorney to create the document, you always have the legal right to have an attorney review a prenuptial. If you are not afforded the opportunity to do so before you sign (which should be a red flag to you at the time of the agreement), the court may agree that it is invalid and, therefore, unenforceable.
Fraudulent information and failure to provide full and true disclosure are also reasons that a prenup may be found to be invalid. Both parties are required to fully and truthfully disclose relevant information for the prenuptial to be binding, including:
- A complete list of assets
- Total income
- Any liabilities
Any failure to disclose relevant information or hide assets or debts can render the agreement invalid because the other party wasn’t afforded the ability to make a decision based on the true facts of the situation.
Invalid or Unfair Provisions in a Prenuptial Agreement
Washington only allows certain provisions in a prenuptial agreement. Child support and custody arrangements, for example, would not be enforceable. The interests of the parent have no role in the eyes of the court when it comes to ensuring children are taken care of after a divorce. Even if you come to an agreement before you marry about how support and custody should be handled, the court maintains the right to make any decision that it feels is in the best interests of the child at the time of the divorce, regardless of any prenuptial or other agreements. However, it’s important to note that while these provisions may be struck from a prenup, they may not invalidate the entire agreement.
The provisions of a prenuptial agreement in the state of Washington also must be “conscionable.” This means, although spouses can sign away many rights, if the agreement is so one-sided and unfair that a spouse is left with nothing after being dependent on the other for a long time, the court may decide to award her with some form of support, even if the prenuptial says otherwise.
Any other provisions that violate the law in some fashion will also be considered invalid and unenforceable and may invalidate all or part of the prenup, as well.
Get Legal Help Today
Prenuptial agreements can be difficult to fight in court, but it’s not impossible, especially if the terms are unconscionable or otherwise unenforceable under Washington state law. If you think the prenuptial you signed is unfair or invalid, your family law attorney can help you decide how you can take legal action to protect your rights during your divorce.
The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny has extensive experience handling divorce cases for couples of all kinds across the state of Washington, and we’re here to help you and your family as you transition into a new phase of life. To arrange a private consultation with a skilled attorney about your divorce situation, call us by phone, or use the contact form to send us an email today.