Prenuptial Agreements are Always Enforceable, Correct?

In Mississippi, as well as every other state, many couples seek the protections and predictability that can often be offered by entering into a contract prior to marriage, commonly referred to as a prenuptial agreement. While prenuptial agreements are generally valid and enforceable, there are exceptions that a client needs to be aware of as to the terms of that agreement prior to entering into such an contract.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that any prenuptial agreement is enforceable just as any other contract. However, the execution of the agreement must be deemed to be fair. The general consensus is that fairness indicates that the agreement has to be entered into voluntarily and with full disclosure of both the husband and wife’s financial assets. It’s clear that fairness can encompass many different ideals; however, the providing of entire disclosure as to the parties’ finances and/or the knowledge of each other’s financial state is a paramount concern when entering into a prenuptial agreement. Fairness can also be affected by whether or not the parties are represented by counsel, or whether the parties had time to review the agreement prior to its execution. In other words, if either party is under duress in signing the prenuptial agreement, it is possible that the court may invalidate certain terms or conditions contained in the prenuptial agreement. The education of the parties is also a factor in whether or not the agreement was sufficiently explained or so complicated that an explanation as to the terms was necessary. It is important to note that execution of the agreement could be considered fair by a chancery court even in the case that either side is not represented by counsel.

Our general advice to any client who is seeking the protections of a prenuptial agreement is to contact an experienced Mississippi attorney who is able to guide you through the potential landmines that can occur in the prenuptial contracting process. It is also important that clients recognize that prenuptial agreements have to be consistent with public policy and cannot fly directly in the face of clear statute in state of Mississippi. Some examples of a prenuptial agreement being deemed invalid by chancery court would include not only cases where the contract between the husband and wife are directly inconsistent with Mississippi statute, but also when the parties have contracted to a matter which is deemed at odds with public policy. Although public policy exceptions are less likely to occur, it is important to note that a court always has the ultimate say in determining whether or not the terms of the contract are fair and just. A court could also deem certain terms under a prenuptial agreement be deemed unconscionable. All of the laws and regulations related to any contract also apply to prenuptial agreements. Therefore, prenuptial agreements are not given specific immunity from being deemed invalid by a court simply because the parties agreed to the terms.

If you need assistance in drafting a prenuptial agreement, we are equipped to assist you in that process. We are able to help you consider the factors that may not have been considered to this point, and will be able to draft the contract in such a way that it will be deemed most likely valid if it were challenged in the event of a divorce or separation. If you need assistance with any of these matters, call the Law Offices of Matthew Poole, 601-573-7429.
Law Office of Matthew Poole

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