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When is a prenuptial agreement in Rhode Island unenforceable?

When two people in Rhode Island decide to get married, with marriage comes the tying of their assets and finances, at least in part. If one spouse owned a significant amount of assets prior to marriage or if one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other, these may be two situations in which the couple may want to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. Of course, even those of modest means can still benefit from a prenuptial agreement -- after all, no one can tell what the future will bring.

However, did you know that in Rhode Island there are certain instances in which a prenuptial agreement may be deemed unenforceable? For example, under the Rhode Island Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, in order to be enforceable, each spouse must have voluntarily created the prenup. Moreover, if the prenuptial agreement was unconscionable when created, it may not be enforced. What types of scenarios would make a prenuptial agreement unconscionable? One situation is if one spouse did not provide the other spouse with a fair and reasonable disclosure of his or her assets and financial information prior to entering into the prenup, or the other spouse did not waive in writing both expressly and voluntarily the right to such information.

If a spouse believed his or her prenuptial agreement should not be enforced, he or she bears the burden of proving so by clear and convincing evidence. Finally, when it comes to unconscionability in particular, the court will make such determinations as a matter of law.

Prenups can be very useful and can protect each party's financial interests, but they also must be fair. Both parties to a prenuptial agreement need to take care that they have made all the proper disclosures and have carefully thought out all aspects of their prenuptial agreement. If they fail to do so, there is a chance that in the future one spouse or the other can contest the validity of the prenup.

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