We've discussed here on more than one occasion how having a prenuptial agreement in place before you wed can be crucial to protecting your financial future if you divorce. They can protect those who have significantly more assets (such as inheritances) than their spouse. They can also protect the spouse with less money, particularly if he or she leaves the workplace for a time to be a stay-at-home parent.

However, prenups aren't worth the paper they're printed on if they aren't drawn up correctly. There are a number of factors that can cause a prenup to be ruled invalid in court.

It's Unfair to One Party

Many of these factors have to do with whether it was fair to both parties. For example, if it's determined that one party was coerced into signing it, wasn't aware of what they were signing or did not have legal representation, it may be ruled invalid. That's one reason it's important for both people to have their own attorney in the process. Even if one person's lawyer draws it up, the other person should have his or her lawyer review it.

Pushing a document in front of someone the night before the wedding or after he or she has had a few glasses of wine is also a good way to invalidate it if it's ever challenged. Prenups should be carefully discussed and considered by both parties before they sign.

A prenup may be considered unconscionable if it considerably favors one person more than another. Even if both parties agreed to the terms, if one of them challenges it later, a judge may rule that it was unfair to that person.

It's Fraudulent or Improper

A prenup may be considered fraudulent if one or both parties doesn't truthfully and completely disclose all assets and debts. This is a requirement.

Of course, a prenup has to be properly written and executed. Even minor errors can get a prenup thrown out, and all of the protections you thought you had in place can be gone. That's why it's essential to have attorneys experienced in drafting prenups in your state involved in the process.

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