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When courts will refuse to enforce prenuptial agreements

Many North Carolina couples try to protect their assets in the event of a divorce by entering into prenuptial agreements before marrying. Although courts normally give these agreements weight and usually follow them, there are some circumstances in which a court will refuse to enforce a prenuptial agreement.

Enforcement of a signed prenuptial agreement will not occur if the other spouse is able to prove that he or she was forced into signing it. Similarly, the court may find an agreement unenforceable if a spouse can prove that the other spouse did not disclose all of his or her income and assets at the time of signing, the spouse could not have reasonably known about the assets and he or she did not waive his or her right to disclosure in writing.

Even if a prenuptial agreement is deemed valid, a spouse may still be ordered to pay the other to support them if they would otherwise have to rely on governmental assistance regardless of the agreement. This can occur even if an agreement specifically waives the right to alimony.

Courts determine whether to enforce prenuptial agreements when there is a dispute concerning one. It is not uncommon, especially in high-asset divorces, for one spouse to challenge an existing prenuptial agreement. Understanding what must be proven in order for the court to determine that an agreement is unenforceable is important for people in this situation. Divorcing couples dealing with prenuptial agreement issues or other concerns may wish to seek the assistance of a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to help their client gather needed documentation and other evidence necessary to challenge a prenuptial agreement's enforceability in court.

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, "ยง 52B-7. Enforcement.", October 21, 2014

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