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When is a prenuptial agreement in CA not enforceable?

When a couple in California marries, many take the step of putting prenuptial agreements -- also known as premarital agreements -- in place in the event of divorce. While this is a legal agreement that is written into state law, there are also subsets that can render it unenforceable. Those who are counting on a prenuptial agreement to have an idea as to how the divorce legal issues will be navigated might be surprised when they discover that certain acts could sabotage it.

The agreement will not be enforceable in the event that: the spouse that did not execute the agreement did not enter into it willingly or if the agreement was unreasonable at the time of its execution. In addition to its unreasonableness, it is also required that the following applies: there was not full disclosure as to the obligations the other party would have to face; the party did not willingly waive the right to disclosure of financial or property obligations in writing; and there was no way for the party to have had suitable knowledge of the other party's obligations.

The court will decide if an agreement was unreasonable. This can happen if the court finds that the party who signed the agreement was represented by a legal counsel that had no link to the other spouse and was independent; if the party against whom the premarital agreement was made had at least seven calendar days from when the agreement was presented to when it was signed; if the other party who was not advised by legal counsel was still aware of what he or she was signing; or if the person signed the agreement while under duress or due to fraud.

There are benefits to prenuptial agreements. However, there are also times in which a person is coerced into signing an agreement that he or she does not understand or did so without having adequate legal counsel. When there is a concern that a prenuptial agreement was unfair or illegal in any way, it is important to seek legal advice as to what can be done about it.

Source:, "Family Code Section 1610-1617," accessed on Feb. 10, 2015

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