One would think that the spouses with assets worth millions of dollars would have entered into an iron-clad prenuptial agreement for dividing those assets if there was ever a divorce.
However, even seemingly iron-clad agreements are often challenged in California divorce cases involving well-to-do spouses.
Grounds for Challenging a Prenuptial Agreement
The method for challenging a prenuptial is to demonstrate that it is defective in some manner and therefore should not be enforced. This is never an easy undertaking, because much of the evidence will be disputed testimony about what each spouse said or did, or did not say or do – facts that are very difficult to establish without other supporting evidence.
The dispute typically centers on whether the prenuptial agreement was revoked, amended, or invalid from the start because it was entered into as a result of fraud or duress.
For example, fraud might be claimed if one party or the other failed to fully disclose their assets. Duress might be claimed where one party had exerted emotional pressure on the other to sign the agreement. In any such situation, a court will make the final decision based on all of the facts.
The Infamous Bonds Case
Barry Bonds, the former major league baseball player, once stood to lose part of a million dollar contract in his divorce. During the divorce proceeding, his soon-to-be ex-wife argued that she signed the prenuptial agreement under duress, as evidenced by the fact that she signed it just one day before the wedding.
In some situations, a last-minute signing might be evidence that threats were made by the more wealthy party to embarrass the other party by calling off the wedding at the last minute if the agreement was not signed. However, in the Bonds case, the judge ultimately determined that the wife had actually had time to fully investigate the agreement before the last-minute signing, and so the agreement there was free from duress and enforceable.
The situation of the Bonds spouses illustrates why couples with high income or substantial assets should begin the process of discussing and drafting of the prenuptial agreement with their attorneys months in advance of the wedding.
Call Minella Law Group for Skilled Help with Prenuptial Agreements
The team of experienced family law attorneys at Minella Law Group can assist you with all aspects of prenuptial agreements.
We can draft them to fit your specific situation, review agreements drafted by another attorney, advise you on whether or not an agreement is likely to be enforceable, advise you on whether to sign an agreement or negotiate on your behalf, and assist you in either challenging or defending against a challenge to a prenuptial agreement.
Please contact us at (619) 289-7948 for more information or a free 15 minute consultation.