Before marriage, many couples create prenuptial agreements to define and outline the financial obligations of the union. In the event of a divorce or death, the document specifies how property, debts, and support are granted. While these agreements are usually enforceable by the courts, there are a few circumstances that could invalidate a prenup in North Carolina. If you want to know if your contract is in solid legal standing, here are a few points to know.
Is My Prenup Legally Binding?
Prenuptial agreements, or premarital agreements as they are known in North Carolina, are there to protect the interests of both spouses. Unfortunately, there are a few conditions that can affect your agreement. They include:
Lack of Voluntary Consent
North Carolina prenuptial agreements can be invalidated if there is a lack of voluntary consent. In these cases, a party needs to show that they signed the agreement under coercion, duress, or without full consent. If the person was not able to review or understand the terms, the courts may agree that the prenup is invalid.
Lack of Full Disclosure
Along with that, both parties must provide full and honest financial disclosure. Sometimes, an individual may have misrepresented their financial situation. That could be grounds for invalidating the agreement. Concealing assets or liabilities undermines the purpose of the prenup.
Prenups that have one-sided terms or blatantly favor one party are often invalidated. Unfortunately, the definition of unconscionable can vary. However, if the agreement was heavily skewed to one side to the detriment of the other, the courts may not enforce the prenup.
Lack of Independent Legal Counsel
All parties should have their lawyer when drafting and reviewing the agreement. While it may seem easier to work with one attorney, both sides should have an independent legal professional review all the terms to help them protect their interests. In cases where the one spouse was not provided an attorney or discouraged from seeking legal advice, that may lead to an invalidation of the prenup.
North Carolina law prohibits specific provisions in prenuptial agreements. For example, any conditions related to child custody, child support, and any terms that encourage divorce are not enforceable. If your prenup contains illegal or unenforceable clauses, those terms could be invalidated, while the rest of the agreement may still stand.
Lack of Proper Execution
Prenuptial agreements need to be executed with certain formalities. Both parties should sign the agreement voluntarily before a notary public or independent witness. If there are issues with this process, the courts might deem the document invalid.
Violation of Public Policy
Prenuptial agreements should not violate established legal principles. If a provision in the prenup goes against public policy or legal requirements, it may be invalidated. For instance, if any clause eliminates spousal support and leaves one spouse destitute, it may be considered against public policy and unenforceable.
What Else Could Invalidate a Prenup in North Carolina?
While prenuptial agreements in North Carolina are a valuable tool for couples to define their financial arrangements, enforceability requires adherence to legal requirements. In turn, that can create fairness between the parties. Keep in mind that there are special circumstances surrounding these invalidated agreements. In many cases, the burden of proof remains with the objecting spouse.
If you want to know what could invalidate a prenup in North Carolina, reach out to an experienced family law attorney in North Carolina. The attorneys at Stephen E. Robertson Law Office are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for your case. You can set up an appointment by calling 336-370-6760 today.