When Good Agreements Go Bad

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June 6, 2013

So you and your fiancé just signed a premarital agreement and now you are ready to walk down the aisle. You are confident that your agreement will protect you should you ever need it because you did everything right in having it prepared: you consulted with an attorney who is experienced in family law and estate planning, discussed the agreement in advance with your fiancé, and negotiated and reached a fair agreement. It may not have been easy, but you navigated these sensitive waters and finally signed an agreement that will grow with you throughout your marriage.

Then, no sooner than the ink was dry, you put the agreement away, deep in a dark drawer. Relieved to have the whole thing over and the safety net in place, you now hope to never speak of the agreement again. But be careful. Although your premarital agreement was valid when it was signed, it may become invalid. To maintain its validity, you must “live by” your agreement.

Courts have ruled that a premarital agreement may be nullified when the parties conduct themselves in a manner inconsistent with the agreement during their marriage. To avoid this, you should make sure you understand the practical impact of your agreement on your life. During the early years of your marriage you should touch base with your attorney regularly to ensure your understanding. Before making any major decisions or doing large financial transactions, you should consult with your attorney. Follow-through is critical to making sure your good agreement doesn’t go bad and to make sure you don’t slip through a hole in your safety net.