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Tips for avoiding invalid prenups

These days, more and more New Jersey residents are adding "make a prenuptial agreement" to the list of tasks that need to be done before their wedding. Previously, prenups were often considered both unromantic and the province of the extremely wealthy, but today people from all walks of life who have assets they wish to protect or pass on to family members are drawing them up. Rather than unromantic, they are now often seen as a sign that the marriage is being taken seriously and that openness and honesty will be important elements of it.

However, the time and effort taken to create a fair prenuptial agreement is wasted if that prenup is judged invalid during divorce proceedings. Fortunately, awareness of the ways some prenups have gone wrong can help individuals avoid these mistakes while they are working with an attorney to draft their agreement.

Including unfair or unenforceable elements in a prenup can cause the judge to throw out the whole agreement. Some of these elements include child support arrangements, which cannot be part of a prenup; unenforceable provisions, such as who will take care of specific household tasks or what weight a spouse will maintain; and "unconscionable" requirements that drastically favor one spouse. Any sign that the prenup was signed unwillingly will also invalidate it. For instance, if a prenup was signed right before the wedding, one spouse might claim duress.

Other mistakes people make include not having separate representation for each partner, hiding assets, depending on an oral agreement and using ambiguous language. Making any of these errors and invalidating the prenup may only add grief and heartache to the emotional demands of divorce. Consulting an attorney with experience in divorce law can often head off some of these problems.

Source: Huffington Post, "10 Common Prenup Pitfalls", David Centeno, November 04, 2013

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