Often our PA family law clients hear about prenuptial agreements as they are described and portrayed in the media, and think that these agreements are only for the rich and famous. This is not true, however. A PA prenuptial agreement is a good idea for any potential nuptials where one person has something to protect. Often, this is because one person is entering into a second marriage, and has children from his/her first marriage that they want to protect and provide for. Or maybe a person has a significant inheritance or family assets that he/she wants to protect. Whatever the reason, a Pennsylvania prenuptial agreement is a topic worth discussing with a family law attorney prior to marriage.
Contract Principles Apply. PA contract principles apply in assessing the validity of a prenuptial agreement – as it is essentially a contract. This means that in assessing validity of a prenuptial agreement, the “voluntariness” of the agreement is important. This means that the parties must have entered into the prenuptial agreement (or contract) freely and voluntarily. Factors that may weigh against the voluntariness of the agreement include how soon the agreement is drafted before the wedding, whether or not a party was forced to sign the agreement under duress or coercion, or any other form of heightened pressure placed on one party to sign the agreement.
Full and Fair Disclosure. The most important assessment with the validity of a prenuptial agreement is whether or not both parties fully and fairly disclosed all of their assets and debts prior to entering into the agreement. This is a requirement under PA law that both parties must fully disclose all assets and debts in their name that they are “bringing to the table” – including all real and personal property, bank accounts, retirement and investment accounts, business interests, cash value of any life insurance policies, all debts that person has associated with them, and other items that may be important.
In order to avoid issues with validity, considering a prenuptial agreement in sufficient advance of the wedding will allow the parties to avoid drafting issues. It also gives the parties plenty of time to ensure that they are disclosing everything necessary prior to executing the final agreement, as well as gives the parties time to have the agreement reviewed by a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney prior to execution.