When are prenuptial agreements valid?

Prenuptial agreements will be valid if properly prepared according to the laws of your state. Two parties may contract on any terms that they wish, and the court will enforce it as long as the contract is not an illegal one and does not go against public policy. A prenuptial agreement is simply a contract made in consideration of marriage, and the courts are thus going to enforce it if it is fair and you follow the rules when making it.

Requirements for a Prenuptial Agreement

In every state, there are certain requirements for a prenuptial agreement to be valid. Some of these requirements are common to all jurisdictions and some are state specific, so you will want to check the laws where you live. However, some common requirements include:

  • The contract must be in writing. If you make an oral agreement with your future spouse, courts aren't going to enforce it.
  • The contract must not be signed under duress.
  • The parties must have time to consider the contract and, if they wish, to have an attorney look it over.
  • The parties must enter into the contract knowingly. Usually, this means that there must either be full disclosure of assets and liabilities before entering into the contract, or the parties may waive full disclosure.

There may also be a requirement that the prenuptial agreement be witnessed, or even filed with the proper legal authorities. You should always check with the laws of your state to create a valid agreement.

There may also be limitations on what you can include in the agreement. For example, most states will not enforce a prenup that waives a child's right to support, since that is a right that belongs to the child, not the parents, and since in any case an agreement to waive child support would be against public policy.

Getting Help - Prenuptial Agreements

To make sure your prenuptial agreement will protect your assets and be enforceable by a court, it is in your best interests to speak with a lawyer and get professional help in drafting it.