Our Pittsburgh Family Lawyers bring you the following information on prenuptial agreements in Pennsylvania:
Prenuptial agreements, commonly called "Pre-Nups," are becoming more common between marrying couples in state. A pre-nup is considered a contractual relationship entered into by a man and woman in contemplation of their marriage. Prenuptial agreements may be used to outline what will happen upon divorce or death of the parties in the following areas: the division of assets/debts and the amount of support each party is entitled to. Prenuptial agreements are binding under PA law for the issues of equitable distribution, spousal support and alimony. However, provisions in a prenuptial agreement related to child custody are not binding, as child custody orders are always modifiable by the parties. Issues related to child support are sometimes not binding issues if stated in a prenuptial agreement as well.
As these agreements are made before the parties are married, there are often arguments between the parties later on regarding the validity of the agreement.
Under Pennsylvania law, (23 Pa. C.S. § 3106) the burden of proof to set aside a premarital agreement is placed on the party that is alleging the unenforceability of the agreement. A prenuptial agreement is not enforceable in Pennsylvania if the party opposing the agreement can establish, by clear and convincing evidence that:
- The party did not execute the agreement voluntarily. A party may argue fraud, duress or coercion, which are contract principles, in establishing that they did not enter into a prenuptial agreement as a product of their own volition.
- Also, specifically with prenuptial agreements, a party may challenge the written agreement based on a lack of fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party. A party may argue that they did not have material information regarding their spouse's assets or debts at the time of the execution of the agreement, and therefore, the agreement should be set aside based on their spouse's lack of disclosure. This could occur if a spouse is trying to hide significant assets from the marriage or not disclosing a significant amount of debt in his or her name.
- In conjunction with a challenge based on lack of proper financial disclosures, a party also may argue that this information was not disclosed AND their right to this information was not expressly waived, or given up previously.
- Lastly, and as stated, a party may argue against the validity of a prenuptial agreement based on the lack of "adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party" under PA law.
If you have questions about the validity of a prenup in Pennsylvania, contact us today.