Prenuptial Agreements

I got married on December 31, 2016 in Costa Rica. The wedding was very expensive and included 120 of our closest friends and family. Six months prior he had mentioned the idea of a prenup but I did not think he was serious and we did not discuss it again. Four days before we left for the wedding my husband gave me a copy of a prenup and asked me to sign it. I was furious. He basically told me that if I didn’t sign it then we could not get married. The wedding was already paid for. Some friends had already departed for the trip. I scrambled and took it to a lawyer friend of mine to review with me and I did sign it. Everything is fine in our relationship but I am really concerned that if something happens in the future I will be out of luck. Is the agreement going to hold up in court if it comes to that?

It is possible that a court will find that the prenuptial agreement is invalid based on the circumstances. Your husband obviously intended to have a prenuptial agreement long before the wedding as it is unlikely that his lawyer would have been able to prepare such an agreement on short notice. It certainly seems very unfair that he would spring it on you like that.

Generally, a prenuptial agreement is valid if the parties fully disclose their assets and have the opportunity to consult with counsel. The opportunity to consult with an attorney, however, must be a “meaningful opportunity.” Four days before departing for the wedding trip does not seem like a sufficient amount of time. It is unlikely that you would be able to schedule a consultation with a seasoned family law attorney with only a few days’ notice. Was your lawyer friend a family law attorney? I would certainly argue that you did not have a meaningful opportunity to consult with a lawyer of your choice.

The fact that the signing was so close to the wedding date is also problematic. The wedding invitations were already sent. The wedding was already paid for. Friends and family were already on their way to the destination. Since you signed under these circumstances I would argue that the agreement was procured by duress, in which case it would not be enforceable. If one party is pressured into signing the agreement, the agreement will likely be invalidated by the Court if challenged.

Jessica H. Anderson
Family Law Attorney Reno, NV

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