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Contesting a prenuptial agreement in Indiana

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Prenuptial & Premarital Agreements

Prenuptial agreements were once thought to be useful only for wealthy individuals, but the popularity and utility of these agreements has increased dramatically in the past two decades.

Experienced divorce lawyers now advise clients at every level of financial achievement to consider joining their intended spouse in a prenuptial agreement before they say their vows. However, even the most carefully drafted prenuptial agreement is subject to challenge.

Many intelligent and well-educated individuals now ask whether their prenuptial agreement can be set aside by a court order. The answer is “maybe,” or “it depends.” Indiana has a statute that sets the rules for enforcing and, by inverse reasoning, for invalidating prenuptial agreements.

The basics of a prenuptial agreement

According to Indiana’s law that governs prenuptial agreements, a prenuptial agreement is a contract between two prospective spouses executed in contemplation of marriage that becomes legally effective when they exchange their marital vows.

The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. If either of these requirements is not followed, the prenuptial agreement is void without ever having taken effect.

Because most prenuptial agreements are drafted by experienced attorneys, very few agreements are declared invalid for failure to follow the formalities of writing and joint signatures.

Instead, if a prenuptial agreement is found to be invalid, it is likely to be because of a specific statutory reason allowing a judge to take such action.

Grounds for invalidating a prenuptial agreement

According to the applicable statute, a prenuptial agreement is unenforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought did not execute the agreement voluntarily, or because the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed.

A third ground for voiding a prenuptial agreement is proof that a provision in the agreement eliminates or modifies the right to spousal support and causes one party extreme hardship under circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable when the agreement was negotiated and signed.

The facts and circumstances of every prenuptial agreement and its execution are unique. Determining whether something was unconscionable or reasonably foreseeable, or whether something happened voluntarily can be challenging, and you should consult an experienced lawyer to help you in this analysis.