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How can a prenuptial agreement be invalidated?

In the midst of the nuptial news with Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss, the engagement announcement George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, we've taken quite a bit of time to talk about prenuptial agreements. (Essentially, they are written contracts that order the division of assets and personal property.)

While we have heard stories of "iron clad" celebrity prenups, it is worth asking whether they can actually be challenged (and defeated) in court. This question is especially important considering the fallout with former major leaguer Andruw Jones.

According to a number of news accounts, Jones has been accused of domestic abuse stemming from a Christmas morning incident with his wife. Gwinett County police report that Jones grabbed her by the neck, dragged her down a flight of stairs and threatened to kill her. She has since filed for divorce and is seeking primary custody of their nine-year-old son. She is also asking the court to invalidate their prenuptial agreement, which would entitle her to child support, spousal maintenance and half of the couple's marital property.

Prenuptial agreements can be challenged on a number of grounds. If it can be shown that one of the parties did not fully disclose his or her assets, or that the agreement was signed under considerable duress, the prenup can be invalidated. Also, if one party did not have the liberty of consulting a lawyer or was presented with the prenup shortly before the wedding, these factors could lead to the agreement being invalidated.

Like any contract, evidence showing that one party used undue influence in gaining the other's approval can lead a court to rule that no contract existed. When a prenuptial agreement is overturned, all the assets and debts are considered marital property and divided accordingly.

We should also mention that while prenuptial agreements can control the division of assets and debts, they may not dictate custody and child support issues.

If you have additional questions about prenuptial agreement and whether they will hold up in court, please view our website.

Source: HoustonChron.com, Wife of ex-Brave Andruw Jones files for divorce, January 2, 2013

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