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Woman convinces judge to void prenuptial agreement

Prenuptial agreements can help make the divorce process less contentious -- that is, if they are upheld by a court. These agreements are routinely upheld by judges in Massachusetts, but a woman in the middle of a divorce recently convinced a judge to find her prenuptial agreement invalid.

The woman married her wealthy husband over 12 years ago. Just a few months before the wedding, her husband asked that she sign a prenuptial agreement. At first the woman refused and so the husband promised that after the couple had children, he would tear up the agreement. The woman argued that it was based on this promise that she signed the prenuptial agreement.

In court, the woman argued that after the couple had children, the husband should have voided the agreement. The court agreed with the woman, finding that the husband had procured the woman's signature through fraud. The husband is reportedly worth between $20 and $30 million.

Prenuptial agreements are often met with suspicion by popular culture because of their supposedly unromantic nature. However, a recent survey found that more couples are ignoring popular opinion and recognizing the benefits that can come from having a prenuptial agreement. The survey found that over a five year period, the number of couples with prenuptial agreements rose 73 percent.

Prenuptial agreements can help take some of the complexity and contentiousness out of high asset divorces. While people from all walks of life utilize prenuptial agreements, they are particularly favored by those couples that would face a high asset divorce. Prenuptial agreements can protect the assets of each spouse, protect each party from assuming the other party's debts and clarify financial rights and responsibilities during marriage. Importantly, prenuptial agreements also specify exactly how property division should occur. This can help couples avoid lengthy, contentious divorces by defining each spouse's legal rights before the marriage has even started - that is, unless the agreement is executed under fraudulent pretenses.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Elizabeth Petrakis, Millionaire's Wife, Gets Prenup Thrown Out," Katherine Bindley, March 11, 2013

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