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Escaping from an unfair premarital agreement in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Divorce Law

For the last few decades, attorneys have been advising their clients to sign premarital agreements, also known as “pre-nups,” as a means of reducing uncertainty and turmoil if the marriage does not last. With so many pre-nups in existence, the number of individuals asking if a pre-nup can be invalidated under Pennsylvania law has greatly increased.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has enacted a statute that governs the validity of premarital agreements and the circumstances under which they can be declared invalid. A review of that statute can provide a helpful guide for anyone thinking of challenging a prenup that they have signed or anyone considering signing such an agreement prior to marriage.

The basic rules

The statute in question defines a premarital agreement as “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” The party seeking to set aside the agreement must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the agreement was not executed voluntarily or that the party against whom enforcement is sought was not provided with an adequate disclosure of the other party’s assets and liabilities.

Financial disclosure

The statute specifies the kinds of disclosure that must be made before the agreement will be regarded as valid and enforceable.

Before the agreement was signed, the party against whom enforcement is sought must have received from the other party “fair and reasonable disclosure” of the other party’s property and financial obligations. Also, the party challenging the validity of the agreement must have been proved not to have waived in writing any right to disclosure of the other party’s property or financial obligations.

Voluntary execution

The agreement must have been reduced to writing and signed by both parties prior to the wedding. If either party was subjected to coercion prior to execution, or if either party was deceived by a fraudulent misrepresentation into signing the agreement, the signature of the person will be deemed to be invalid.

Conclusion

Contesting the validity of a premarital agreement requires the services of an experienced attorney who understands the law surrounding premarital agreements.

 

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