Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Overturned?

Can A Prenuptial Agreement Be Overturned?

Many people consider prenuptial agreements to be the be all, end all of contracts. As It turns out, an airtight prenup is exceedingly rare. There are a number of factors that can result in a judge overturning a prenuptial agreement, but reaching that point is difficult.

There are no overarching rules that govern prenups. The statutes vary from state to state, and typically a judge evaluates each case based on its individual merit. However, every lawyer will be looking for one aspect of the contract that makes the agreement outrageously unfair.

“Any lawyer looking to get his client out of a prenup is going to ask three questions,” James Hennenhoefer, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, told ABC News. “When was it signed? Where was it signed? And under what conditions was it signed?”


Timing plays a big part in evaluating prenuptial contracts. If a couple signs a prenup a week before the wedding, for example, the contract is easier to break. One party could argue that they didn’t have enough time to completely grasp the terms of the agreement.

Many states adopted the terms of the Uniform Premartial Agreement Act, which make it necessary to sign a prenup well in advance of a wedding. However, Pennsylvania was not one of those states.

Duress can tie in with timing, but for the most part duress implies that a spouse was under some sort of pressure to sign the contract. Rather than signing it willingly, the spouse was forced into the agreement either due to time constraints or stress.

For example, a wife could be forced into signing a prenup after a lavish wedding is paid for. She may feel pressure to sign the agreement if she thinks that the wedding won’t take place if she refuses to sign.

Full Disclosure
A solid prenup usually includes a list of each person’s assets and debts. If it doesn’t, this could be grounds for breaking the contract. A judge could decide that the agreement isn’t fair if a spouse doesn’t fully understand what they will or won’t gain in the event of a divorce. So, if one party conceals assets from the other, a judge would likely consider that fraud.  It’s important to note, however, that many spouses sign contracts that waive this requirement.

Lopsided Provisions

Lopsided Scale of JusticeSometimes, a judge might look at the terms of a prenup and raise an eyebrow. For example, if an agreement contains terms so unfair that one party would be left with absolutely nothing following a divorce, that contract probably wouldn’t hold up in court.

Importance of Legal Counsel
It’s also possible to overturn a prenuptial agreement if one or both parties signed the contract without legal representation. In cases like this, judges will look to see what sort of circumstances surrounded the signing. Was it drawn up by the wealthier spouse and forced upon the other?

It’s important to note that lack of legal counsel won’t guarantee that a prenup will be overturned. It’s imperative to seek counsel when entering into any contractual agreement so that you may foster a firm understanding of the contract and be better equipped to protect yourself in the future.

About Mary Beier

Mary Beier graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and then co-founded the law firm of Beier, Beier & Beier with her husband Bart Beier. She is an experienced litigator with particular emphasis on personal injury and equine litigation. Mrs. Beier also works in the firm’s family law practice. She focuses on client communication and understanding throughout the course of a client’s legal problem. She is adept at working out creative and cost-effective solutions that clients can be happy with.
  • Patt M

    How can men be expected to get married when even after signing a prenuptial they’re not safe from being destroyed financially when their wife cheats?

    • Kathy

      So, I’m sure the man did absolutely NOTHING wrong!!! Proving adultery is difficult. I don’t agree with cheating in marriage but who’s to say drugging and other things are not just as offensive? So the woman who chooses say to become a yoga guru and her husband wants a divorce means she gets nothing. I think not. And it’s not always the “man” that loses financially — one of my ex’s got off with $70K+- and another put me into bankruptcy. Thanks guys!!

      • Bob Sheridan

        You situation is extremely rare. Compare woman’s loss to a man’s overall and it the scale will break in a woman’s favor.

    • Bob Sheridan

      This is why a lot of men like myself WONT get married. The laws are very archaic and benefit solely the women. It’s just not worth it. Find a state that doesn’t have common law marriage and string women along as long as you can.

      • JazzyJerome

        The risks outweigh the benefits, marriage is not recommended in my opinion.

      • Max Power

        No fault divorce laws stem from mid 1920s Soviet concepts. We did in fact lose the war, comrade.

        “The earliest precedent in no-fault divorce laws was originally enacted in Russia shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution. They were legislated in the series of decrees that issued in early 1918. The decrees included nonjudicial dissolution of marriage by either party and mandatory provision of child-support.[2] The purpose of the Soviet no-fault divorce laws was ideological, intended to revolutionize society at every level.[3] They were the subject of significant revisional efforts from World War II to the 1960s. Major revisions were concluded in 1968.

        In the 1925 Soviet conference to draft the Family Law of 1926, people debated whether marriages should even be registered. Nikolai Krylenko, a chief architect of the Soviet law of marriage and leading theorist of “socialist legality” in the 1920s and 1930s, described the purpose of divorce without restraint as a step toward the ultimate goal of the abolition of marriage, thereby establishing the socialist transformation of society.

        Of course, if living together and not registration is taken as the test of a married state, polygamy and polyandry may exist; but the State can’t put up any barriers against this. Free love is the ultimate aim of a socialist State; in that State marriage will be free from any kind of obligation, including economic, and will turn into an absolutely free union of two beings. Meanwhile, though our aim is the free union, we must recognize that marriage involves certain economic responsibilities, and that’s why the law takes upon itself the defense of the weaker partner, from the economic standpoint.[3]

        California was the first U.S. state to adopt what are now called “no-fault” divorces in the United States in 1969.[4] California’s law was framed on an earlier and roughly contemporaneous effort, of the non-governmental organization, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which began drafting a model of no-fault divorce statute for states to consider in 1967.[5] The Soviet 1968 and California 1969 no-fault divorce laws bore many detailed similarities of terminology, substance, and procedure.”

      • tenshi7angel

        However in Australia, they made it so that if you live together for over a period of time, they consider it the same as marrying, and she can take all your stuff. Most people think half, but after lawyers and shit, it’s all.

  • BubbaShrimp

    Well I’ll be damned.

  • Dray

    Fuck marriage


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  • Gurjeet Singh

    So I have a prenup. But My husband gets the benefit of filing a joint tax return and pays less taxes because he is “married”. I also pay for his health insurance because he is independently wealthy but uses my work insurance because its cheaper. There is another reason also. He is obsessed with his ex wife and not only supports her financially( even though the alimony was over a few years ago) but pretty much does everything for he.. from ordering clothes on line to arranging her vacations . She doesn’t work. My argument is that I thought I was getting married to a divorced person not someone who still wanted to maintain a close relationship with his ex wife and in some sense he is still married to her. So far I don’t know if he has a physical relationship with her or not. I really want
    to find out if this prenup can be overturned.

    • David Powers

      it’s cause of women like you that men have stopped giving a shit about marriage and women as people in general and started looking at them like meat toilets.

    • EPLFannie

      Lol. Good luck Gurjeet. By the sound of it, you will not be able to overturn it. As if how much he benefits from your joint tax return and health insurance covers for what he will end up paying you when the divorce is finalized! Lol, get a grip and think realistic. Women are so money hungry nowadays. I hope you’re Asian… And got married in Asia and live in Asia… Cause without a prenup, women are fked there. And with a prenup is as good as it gets (if it does get overturned in an Asian court, it will be in the man’s best interest). I don’t think I’m gonna get married, ever.

  • tenshi7angel

    A prenup won’t stop her from emptying your house and the bank account before leaving, while you’re at work.