A prenuptial agreement is a contract that is entered into between two people before they are married. The contract typically dictates the division of property and maintenance/support amounts and duration should the parties divorce.
These contracts are especially important to any party coming into a marriage with significantly more assets than the other party or a larger earning capacity than their future spouse. It is important to have legal counsel draft these documents to help ensure that the agreement will be enforceable if they are ever needed after marriage.
Often you hear about prenuptial agreement terms of celebrities who have been recently married or recently divorced. Justin Timberlake’s Wife, Jessica Biel would be provided with $500,000 if he is caught having an affair. Michael Douglas would have to provide Catherine Zeta Jones with $2,800,000 per year for every year that they were married. Kevin Federline only received $1,000,000 after his divorce from Britney Spears according to his prenuptial agreement.
Even though most of us are not millionaires like these celebrities prenuptial contracts are important to people of all levels of income. Prenuptial agreements should not put a strain on a couple about to be married but rather help an engaged couple open a dialogue about finances for what will hopefully be a long and loving marriage.
Recently, you may have read that Stormy Daniels is challenging the confidentiality agreement she purportedly entered into with an attorney associated with then presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. The purported agreement is now the subject of various lawsuits, including an action to set the agreement aside because it is void against public policy.
At first glance, it may seem a bit tenuous to draw a connection between a legal action involving the President of the United States and an Action for Divorce. However, there are more similarities than you may think.
Agreements which impact a family – especially those involving the division of assets or payment of support – are often viewed from the perspective of preserving public policy. For this reason, Courts examine agreements made by the parties to ensure that they are “fairly and equitably” reached and free from “fraud and duress.” As a result, if the terms of an agreement were manifestly unfair at the time of execution, the agreement could be set aside.
What are some examples of a “manifestly unfair” agreement? Well, every case is different. However, generally an unfair agreement awards one spouse a significantly greater share of the marital estate, or provides for an unsustainably high/low child support or maintenance obligation. In those cases, the Court could set aside the agreement (and make it as if the agreement never existed in the first place).
Actions to set aside an agreement are extremely time sensitive and must be addressed as soon as possible. If you believe your divorce, child support, or child custody agreement is unfair, please give us a call to see if we can help.