Are Prenuptial Agreements Legally Binding?

Marriage is a sign of commitment between partners. The occasion of a wedding day can be extremely exciting and romantic, but there is also a legal aspect to the institution. 

Prenuptial agreements are one way that couples opt to protect their rights before tying the knot. For the most part, these documents are legally binding, offering security to both spouses. Nonetheless, the court might intervene in some circumstances and rule that a prenup is invalid. Outlined below are some of the more common reasons why this might happen. 

Agreements must be voluntary in nature 

As with all other aspects of the law, parties to prenuptial agreements must be mentally aware of what they are signing up for. A person cannot be coerced into signing, nor can they be forced to sign when ill or intoxicated. 

Agreements must be equitable 

A court is likely to intervene in cases where a prenuptial agreement is manifestly unfair, or attempts to disregard the legal rights or obligations of one individual. For instance, a parent cannot include terms that would mean their financial obligations to their child will cease should the marriage end. Additionally, valid prenups rely on the full disclosure of financial circumstances. If one spouse has attempted to hide assets, the courts are likely to frown upon this. 

Procedures must be followed 

Generally, it is a legal requirement for prenuptial agreements to be witnessed by a third party to ensure that no coercion has taken place. Parties should also have been given the opportunity to seek legal guidance that is knowledgeable in this area before signing. Any arrangement must also fall fully in line with the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA) to be valid in North Carolina.

While you should certainly look forward to your future in marriage, it is also important to protect your legal rights as a spouse. If you feel that these have been violated, make sure you explore your options in further detail.