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Can Connecticut couples who are breaking up break their prenup?

Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Oct 10, 2012 in High Asset Divorce

When Connecticut couples with significant assets decide to get married, they likely put together a prenuptial agreement to protect themselves and their financial futures. In the event of a divorce, a prenup can protect each spouse's independent wealth and can dictate certain terms of financial awards and payouts.

However, the terms set in a premarital agreement may not always be relevant at the end of a marriage. There may be clauses that a spouse wants challenged or ignored, but breaking a prenup can be fairly difficult and complex.

This is not to say that challenging a prenup cannot be done. Because the stakes can be very high in divorces involving a lot of money or assets, it can be very important for couples to understand the circumstances when a prenup may be broken. Most commonly, it can all come down to paperwork. If there is a simple mistake or incomplete information on form, it may be tossed out.

Barring these clerical errors, serious misrepresentation of wealth going into a marriage may be grounds to break the terms of an existing prenuptial agreement. The misrepresentation would have to be substantial, however. If a person is worth $50 million, a judge typically wouldn't break a prenup if he or she failed to disclose an additional $500,000.

Some people believe that if a person was encouraged or instructed to sign a prenup the agreement would be void. They incorrectly think that this would mean the person was coerced into signing the agreement. However, according to the experience of legal representatives, to prove coercion could mean proving that a person was physically forced into signing the document.

Finally, if there are unenforceable conditions that were set in the original prenup, a judge may agree to break it. For example, if there were abhorrent clauses in a prenup that a logical, reasonable person would have objected to, it may come under scrutiny. Refusal by one party to pay child support or alimony may be grounds to break a prenup, but only under circumstances.

Couples with significant assets want to protect as much of their wealth as possible. However, it is important that each spouse understands what he or she is legally entitled to. Whether this involves challenging or executing the terms of a prenuptial agreement depends on the couple and, likely, the state in which they live.

Source: Reuters, "Breaking up is hard to do, breaking prenup is harder," Geoff Williams, Oct. 5, 2012

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