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Timing, Sophistication of Parties Key Factors in Prenup Enforceability

October 2, 2017

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently reinforced longstanding principles in determining the enforceability of prenuptial agreements. Among the factors a court examines carefully in determining whether a prenup will be upheld are the timing of the presentation of the document and the relative experiences of the parties in terms of age and educational background.  Failure to account for these differences can be fatal to enforceability, since the party seeking to have a prenup enforced bears the burden of proof.

In Grubb v. Grubb,  the wife, then aged 20, was presented with the prenuptial agreement at the office of the attorney representing her soon-to-be husband, who was 42 years old.  The meeting took place two days before the parties left for their destination wedding.  The trial court noted that Mrs. Grubb possessed her G.E.D. and worked at a dry cleaners when the couple met.  Mr. Grubb, on the other hand, had a college degree and had assets in the amount of $5,000,000 and an annual income of approximately $500,000.

While the trial court upheld the agreement with the exception of purported caps on alimony, the Tennessee Court of Appeals determined that Mrs. Grubb’s opportunity to consult independent counsel was illusory.  Accordingly, the prenup was unenforceable.

Post by: Jillian Mastroianni

 


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