Arizona residents may be familiar with a highly publicized court ruling that was issued last week. This ruling may have long lasting effects on the ability of prenuptial agreements to withstand future legal disputes in court. This family law case is very unique because the judge failed to enforce the terms of a written prenuptial agreement signed by the parties four days before their marriage.
Normally, prenuptial agreements withstand most legal challenges. However, if it is proven that they were entered into based on fraud or duress, there are instances where they are vacated by a court. In this particular case, the timing of the signatures is very important. A prenuptial agreement that is signed so close to the wedding day raises more suspicions than one that is entered into well before the marriage takes place. This is because there is more of a chance of one party signing the agreement under duress, and not having enough time to review the contents of the agreement.
According to reports, the wife, who testified that she had refused to sign the prenuptial in the days leading up to the wedding, was told by her future husband that he would rip up the agreement if the couple had children. Although the couple did go on to have two children together, the husband never tore up the agreement. The court found that the husband committed fraud by failing to uphold his promise, thereby vacating the agreement.
Prenuptial agreements have become very popular as they are normally very useful tools for most couples. They can actually save both parties a great deal of emotional turmoil as well as simplify future divorce proceedings, thereby saving legal fees as well by avoiding the need for protracted litigation in court. However, it is very important to be well informed prior to initiating such legal actions. An experienced family law attorney can help anyone facing a divorce to obtain the best possible outcome in these cases.
Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Elizabeth Petrakis, Millionaire's Wife, Gets Prenup Thrown Out," Katherine Bindley, March 11, 2013