How Do Pennsylvania Courts Enforce Prenuptial Agreements?
A prenuptial agreement can be a valuable tool that helps individuals protect their rights and property in case a marriage ends in divorce. There are many reasons people decide to use prenups before getting married, including additional financial security, fewer arguments about money in a marriage and the protection of children’s future inheritance.
Having a prenuptial agreement in place can prevent a lot of drawn-out negotiations and arguments during a divorce. But what steps do courts in Pennsylvania take to enforce these agreements when it becomes necessary to do so?
First, it’s important to understand that Pennsylvania is one of a few states that has not adopted the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA). In place of this standard, prenuptial agreements are regulated and enforced using statutory law and court decisions.
In most situations, a court will uphold a prenuptial agreement. Exceptions may occur if there is clear and convincing evidence of the following:
- One spouse was coerced into signing the agreement or otherwise signed it involuntarily.
- The agreement was inherently and severely unfair to one party due to the following circumstances that existed before it was signed:
- One spouse did not fully and accurately disclose personal debts or assets.
- The spouse who was defrauded did not explicitly waive the right to receive disclosure of the other spouse’s finances in writing.
- The defrauded spouse did not have sufficient knowledge of the other’s financial situation.
In this sense, prenuptial agreements follow the basic rules of contract law — the agreement cannot be unconscionable, and both parties must be fully aware of their rights and have made the proper disclosures before entering the agreement.