Are prenuptial agreements binding? 21 Answers as of February 19, 2013

I'm 52 and my husband is 72 we have been married for 8 years and I came to the marriage with literally nothing. My husband is a very successful building contractor and I was a career waiter/ bartender. This is a second marriage for both of us, he has 5 grown-up children and I have 2. I signed a pre-nuptial agreement leaving me with only my clothes and furniture. He picked and paid for the lawyer who represented me. I wanted nothing because I never envisioned anything happening to us. The house is in his name as well as the cars, I have no money of my own and nowhere to go. Do I have any options?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
There is a presumption that you voluntarily agreed to what you signed however the Attorney should have made certain disclosures to you about his role and that may give you an argument. You need a Lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 2/19/2013
Adams, Liming & Hockenberry, LLC
Adams, Liming & Hockenberry, LLC | Sharon Cason-Adams
Yes. Prenuptial Agreements can be and are enforced in the State of Ohio. However, the circumstances leading to the prenuptial agreement are relevant. Were all financial details disclosed. Was their sufficient time before the marriage to consider the agreement. Did you have legal counsel?
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 2/19/2013
Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
You have options. In order for a divorce court to uphold a pre-nuptial agreement, it must find that the agreement was fair when it was entered into, and fair when it is sought to be enforced. In other words, the court is not likely to leave with only the clothes on your back. You should find a skilled family lawyer who will want to demand maintenance, first on a temporary and then on a permanent basis. To be fair in its inception, a pre-nup should include a complete financial disclosure from each party and a meaningful chance to read and review it. The fact of your husband's picking and paying for your lawyer may or may not mean that he failed to give you the advice to which you are entitled. Each case is different. The facts could lead to the inference that he was really representing your husband's interest, but they just as well might not. Facts made the point or not.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 2/19/2013
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
Prenuptial agreements are binding if all of the formalities of the prenuptial agreements required by statute are followed. You would have to have your agreement reviewed by experienced counsel.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 2/19/2013
Law Office of Barton R. Resnicoff | Barton R. Resnicoff
If the agreement was fair and equitable when made and not unconscionable now and there was no fraud, duress or coercion in its preparation and execution, it is binding. However, if, at the time of the divorce, you are in danger of becoming a public charge, public assistance of one form or another, the spousal support provisions may be overridden.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/18/2013
    Thompson Law Firm, PLLC
    Thompson Law Firm, PLLC | William Matthew Thompson
    You need to take your pre-nup and go visit a lawyer. There are certain requirements for pre-nups to be valid; full financial dislocures, rights to counsel, time to review prior to ceremony. However, it is cerainly possible it is valid.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    Prenupturals are generally binding.. if done right and all appropriate disclosures are madeHOWEVER a court should not leave you without income if you substantially changed your potential income because your husband wanted you to stop working once you got married.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Reade & Associates
    Reade & Associates | R. Christopher Reade
    You should take the prenuptial agreement to a family lawyer in your jurisdiction and explain the circumstances for execution of the Agreement. Under the common law, a prenuptial agreement is enforceable unless it is "unconscionable, obtained through fraud, misrepresentation, material nondisclosure or duress." Buettner v. Buettner, 89 Nev. 39, 45, 505 P.2d 600, 604 (1973). One overcomes the presumption of invalidity by showing that the disadvantaged party: (1) had ample opportunity to consult an attorney, (2) was not coerced, (3) possessed substantial business acumen, and (4) understood the financial resources of the other party and the rights being forfeited under the agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Generally, prenuptial agreements are legal and binding in most states. However, the details concerning the requisites for enforceability tend to a be different from state to state. And, there can be differences depending on whether the question about enforceability come up in connection with a divorce or in connection with inheritance rights when one spouse dies. The fact that you did not choose your own lawyer when the agreement was made may or may or may not be relevant in determining how binding your agreement is and you should consult another attorney for a better understanding of your current situation and options.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Cantin Lawyers PC | John Morris
    The short answer in Connecticut is maybe. Our law requires certain things to be done when the agreement is signed to be valid, and even then it might fail if it is considered unconscionable when enforced years later. We are also moving in the direction of 'sunsetting' pre-nups, so they lose validity after so many years. You really need to speak to a good divorce lawyer in your area to know the answer to your question.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    As long drafted correctly and executed properly.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    John Russo | John Russo
    Sorry but you folks are funny, "I wanted nothing because I never envisioned anything happening to us" Prenuptial's are contract's and subject to the law of contract's with variations depending on your jurisdiction. What I mean is that you will have to research your States statutory provisions if any on this issue, as well as, your States Supreme Court decisions on this matter. I have been doing this for a long time and have handled a number of these matters over the years from both ends, now in my jurisdiction, R.I. The court has made pre-nups pretty difficult to unwind, but not impossible, the way in is through income earned during the marriage, this is a very complicated issue and if you retain counsel make very sure that they are well versed in family law matters, you don't want Uncle Ernie's real estate lawyer, so do your homework. I just recently finished up on a fairly large estate as did one of my former partners, in both cases which we represented for lack of a better way of putting it the individual on the short end going in, we were fairly successful in both, in one matter the client ended up with a little over a million dollars on a net estate of 2.5 million, and the other the client received just under 6 million. These both were accomplished through a concept of income argument, there is to much detail to get into here on this issue, but yes you have a chance depending on your States rulings in these types of matters, from what I have seen from around the country the majority of jurisdictions do allow the income argument, and just so you are aware this does not simply mean that the income earned in the marriage is subject to equitable distribution, it is much more complicated then that. So retain counsel and let them read the agreement you may be pleasantly surprised with your options.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
    Basically, in Pennsylvania, a pre -nuptial agreement is binding if it is in writing and signed by both parties, if, as part of the agreement there has been a full disclosure of the assets of each party and if both parties are either represented by counsel or have been advised and given the opportunity to seek the advice of counsel and this fact is noted in the agreement. From the facts you state it appears that the pre -nuptial agreement you entered is binding.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Kalil & Eisenhut, LLC | Michael N. Kalil
    Prenups are valid. Important that in drawing up that there was complete financial disclosure. You need to sit down with an attorney and your agreement and see if its valid and enforceable .
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Law Office of Ernest J. Bauer, Jr., LLC | Ernest J. Bauer, Jr.
    Yes. You need to hire an attorney to review the agreement in order to determine if there is some sort of defect.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    You could ask him to give you something or to put something in the will for you. Other than that, as long as your attorney told you what was in the pre-nup and you agreed to it, I think that is what you can expect to get.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Maybe. A prenuptial agreement in Ohio can be challenged on several grounds. You need an experienced family law attorney to handle the case.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    This depends on the law of the State you live in.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You can challenge prenups. They can be valid but many of them are struck down or portions are struck down. So, you can challenge it in your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
    See an attorney. Some prenups are valid. Others are not. The law now favors both people having their own attorney. Spousal support waivers may be invalidated. The document has to be read and interpreted on the law in effect when the document was written.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/18/2013
    Carey and Leisure | John Smitten
    Pre-nuptial agreements are frequently enforced. Please consult with an attorney to have your documentation reviewed.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/18/2013
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney