The number of Oregon residents who sign a prenuptial agreement with their prospective spouse is increasing, mostly because Oregonians view premarital agreements as an effective way of preventing unnecessary discord in the event of a divorce. Unfortunately, as the number of prenuptial agreements increases, so does the number of people who discover that the terms of their prenuptial agreement are unfair and burdensome. Do these people have a remedy? It depends upon the circumstances under which the prenup was negotiated and signed. Oregon statutes provide five specific reasons which allow the courts to invalidate a premarital agreement.
Failure to follow the formalities
Prenuptial agreements are enforceable only if both parties sign the agreement prior to the wedding. The failure of either party to follow this requirement will allow the court to declare the agreement invalid. A premarital agreement can also be voided if the party against whom enforcement of the agreement is sought can prove that the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed.
Unfairness of the agreement
Both parties to a prenuptial agreement are required to make a full and adequate disclosure of their assets and liabilities to the other party before the agreement is signed. If the party seeking to enforce the agreement has failed to obey this requirement, the agreement cannot be enforced. In addition, proof that the party against whom enforcement is sought did hot have and could not have reasonably had adequate notice of the other party’s assets and liabilities will bar enforcement of the agreement.
An important aspect of an action to enforce a prenuptial agreement is that any issue concerning the unconscionability of the agreement must be decided by the court as a matter of law. Thus, juries play no role in this type of lawsuit. Anyone concerned about the enforceability of a premarital agreement may wish to consult an experienced divorce lawyer for a review of the facts and an opinion ass to whether the agreement may be enforced.