When Is a Prenuptial Agreement Enforceable in a Pennsylvania High-Asset Divorce?

For many successful individuals who have built a comfortable and perhaps lavish lifestyle independently, it can sometimes be difficult to build and maintain relationships due to their wealth. While it is a less than admirable aspect of human nature, some people are simply interested in securing wealth and the lifestyle that goes with wealth by any means. Unfortunately, these means can include deception and leading a romantic partner on when one’s feelings are less than honorable. Thus, some high-asset individuals and couples may consider a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. Contact a Pennsylvania prenuptial agreement attorney of Sadek & Cooper for more information on this process.

Considering a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage can allow both spouses to make their intentions clear. A prenup can set the ground rules should the relationship sour and end in divorce. The Philadelphia divorce lawyers of Sadek & Cooper’s family law practice can help assess whether you are likely to need a prenuptial agreement. If you already have a prenuptial agreement and are considering a divorce in Pennsylvania, we can assess the agreement and determine whether a court it likely to enforce it. To schedule a confidential consultation, call our law firm at 215-814-0395.

Why Is a Prenup Essential for Some Marriages?

In the popular culture, prenuptial agreements are something that is decidedly unromantic and often antithetical to a well-functioning and healthy relationship. However, in reality, this view is inaccurate and fails to capture not only the utility of a prenup but also a prenuptial agreement’s ability to, largely, take money out of the equation of the relationship.

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As a starting point, a prenuptial agreement is particularly useful in settling marital disputes that may arise during the course of the relationship. Parties will understand from the outset the assets they are entitled to receive should the marriage fail. Thus, much of the impetus to get married for the wrong reasons is removed by the prenup. And for many high-asset individuals and soon-to-be high-asset couples, with particularly complex finances, a prenup can serve as a road-map for each party. Other scenarios that often give rise to the need for a prenup include:

  • You are marrying a partner with significant debts or are significantly wealthier than your partner.
  • You are remarrying and wish to keep certain aspects of your finances separate.
  • You own part of a business and want to protect your ownership stake.

Furthermore, the prenuptial agreement is typically drafted and executed by an engaged couple prior to their marriage. As such, one would expect the relationship to be healthy or at least at one of its strongest points. As such, the lines of communication are still open and neither partner has breached the other’s trust. As such, the parties should be able to collaborate and reach an equitable agreement. If the parties were to wait to discuss and figure out these matters until after difficulties arise, it is highly likely that feelings of betrayal or other emotionally charged actions could lead to significant dispute and litigation.

When Is A Pennsylvania Court Likely to Enforce a Prenuptial Agreement?

While recognizing the need for a prenup is important, ensuring that the agreement is likely to be enforceable is of equal import. The rules regarding when a court is likely to enforce a prenuptial agreement are set forth in 23 Pa.C.S.A. Domestic Relations § 3106. Generally, a prenuptial agreement executed in a marriage in Pennsylvania is presumed valid and the burden of proof to set aside the prenup rests with the party challenging it. Generally, the moving party is required to present clear and convincing proof that certain conduct or circumstances occurred that require a court to set the agreement aside. Conduct and circumstances that would require a court to set aside the agreement are:

  • The prenuptial agreement was signed under duress or was otherwise not signed and executed voluntarily.
  • At least one party failed to provide an equitable and reasonable  disclosure of their assets and debts before the signing of the prenup.
  • At least one party did not voluntarily  and expressly waive, in writing, the right to receive additional disclosures beyond those already provided.
  • At least one party did not have adequate knowledge concerning the finances of the other party.

If any of the above conditions are proved by clear and convincing evidence, the court will set aside the agreement as unenforceable.

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A Strategic Family Lawyer in Philadelphia Can Draft and Litigate Prenups for High Asset Marriages and Divorces

The Philadelphia family lawyers of Sadek & Cooper take a compassionate and strategic approach to all family law matters. We understand that family law matters are those that hit closest to home. Therefore, we are always willing to get to know our clients and potential clients and listen to your concerns and goals. To discuss how our prenuptial agreement lawyers can assist you, call the attorneys of Sadek & Cooper at 215-814-0395 or online today.

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