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Could your prenuptial agreement be ruled invalid?

Many family law attorneys recommend a prenuptial agreement for just about any couple preparing to tie the knot. However, if one or both spouses is bringing considerable assets into the marriage, it's even more important -- for both of them -- to protect their financial future in case they divorce.

When drawing up a prenup, it's essential that both parties have an experienced family law attorney looking out for their interests. If one person's attorney draws it up, the other one's attorney needs to review it.

A hastily drafted and signed prenup can have errors that make it invalid should it be challenged in court. A prenup that one person feels pressured to sign or isn't given adequate time to review can also be ruled invalid.

Prenups aren't just about money. Perhaps you have a pet that you want to keep should you split up. Putting that in a prenup can save you a nasty and expensive "custody" battle later on.

Most commonly, a prenup is designed to protect the spouse with greater separate assets from losing an unfair part of that wealth in the event of a divorce.

Besides a person being coerced into signing a prenup and/or not having adequate representation, any errors in the document (even minor ones) or in its filing can cause it to be ruled invalid. Further, if one or both parties failed to fully and accurately disclose their assets and debts, the document is considered to be fraudulent.

If a prenup favors one party to a considerable extent over the other one, even if that's what they agreed to at the time, a prenup can be ruled "unconscionable" if the person who got the short end of the stick later disputes it.

The same is true for postnuptial agreements, which couples sometimes draw up after they've been married for awhile, particularly if their financial situation changes or perhaps one of them decides to leave the workforce to stay home and be a full-time parent.

Even though a prenup isn't guaranteed to be ironclad, it's still best to have one in place. Just make sure that you have Washington family law attorneys experienced with these documents looking out for your interests.

Source: Forbes, "How Key Portions Of Prenups And Postnups Can Be Invalidated," Jeff Landers, accessed March 24, 2017

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