1. Unconscionability. It's true that you can agree to give up your right to inherit from your spouse, which you would otherwise be entitled to do upon your spouse's death, even if he or she left you out of a will. You can sign away your right to spousal support if you should end up in divorce court, even if your spouse makes ten times as much money as you do.
You can even agree that your spouse gets all of the money and you get all of the bills, if that is what you want to do. But if the agreement is so grossly unfair that one party gets everything and the other gets nothing, the court probably will not enforce it. Unconscionable Contracts which only a fool would sign, are generally found invalid; and prenuptial agreements are no exception.
2. No Independent Counsel. Because their separate interests are at stake, both parties to a prenuptial contract should, and in some states must, be represented by their own attorneys or the agreement will not be enforced.
3. Incomplete Information. Holding out on pertinent information is as bad as providing false information, and it makes the agreement useless.
4. False Information. A prenuptial agreement is valid only if signed after both parties have honestly disclosed their income, assets, and liabilities. If someone was lying, the agreement is invalid.
5. Provisions Not Legal, Although a prenuptial agreement can cover just about any financial aspect of the parties' relationship, it cannot in any way modify the child support obligations that either spouse would have if the marriage should end in divorce. Any other provisions of the agreement that violate the law would also be invalid. It is possible, however, that the court would enforce the remainder of the agreement, axing only the illegal clauses.
6. No time to think it over. A prospective spouse. entering into a prenuptial agreement must be given time to review it and consider the ramifications before signing it. If the groom hands the contract and a pen to the bride just before she says, "I do," the agreement is probably invalid.
7. You didn't read it if your spouse-to-be shoves a bunch of papers, including a prenuptial agreement, in front of you and asks you to sign them, explaining them away with such excuses as "it's all just a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo," and you take him or her at face value and sign without reading, the agreement should not be enforceable.
8.Your Arm was Twisted. An agreement may not be valid if one of the spouses was pressured by the other or (by his or her lawyer or family) to sign the agreement.
9. Not Properly Signed. Both parties must sign prenuptial agreements before the wedding.
10. Agreement not in writing. prenuptial agreements must be in writing to be enforceable.
Jeffrey Broobin is a free-lance writer on family and finance issues; his main goal is to help people during their complicated period of life.