A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement that you and your spouse sign before your marriage. It is largely financial, and it dictates what will happen if you get divorced. People use these documents as a way to protect their own wealth in case their marriages don’t work out.
However, a prenup that is signed under duress is invalid and will not stand up to scrutiny in court. What does “duress” mean in this sense?
Duress is best described as some type of unfair pressure
Duress is perhaps best understood as psychological pressure. It means that the person who signed the prenup felt pressured to do so and did not really act of their own free will. They may even argue that they did not want to sign, but they felt that they had to do so.
For instance, someone who is given a prenup the night before their wedding may say they were under duress. They already had family and friends in town. They were going to be humiliated if they canceled the wedding. They would lose a lot of money. They may sign the prenup to avoid all that, even if they didn’t agree with its terms.
Another type of duress is when someone uses threats to get their partner to sign a prenup. Maybe the two already have a child together. One person may say that they won’t help to raise the child if the other person won’t sign the prenup. That person may then sign so that they can put their child first, despite the fact that they don’t want to sign.
Is your prenuptial agreement valid?
It is critical to know exactly how to set up a prenup and what legal steps you need to take to ensure that it is valid and that it will actually hold up in a divorce.