Fraud, Duress, Coercion & Unconscionability in Colorado Prenups

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Fraud, Duress, Coercion & Unconscionability in Colorado Prenups

Prenuptial Agreements are Similar to Regular Contracts

Prenuptial agreements – commonly referred to as “prenups” both among laypeople and legal professionals – are contracts that predetermine certain outcomes in the event of divorce among people who plan to marry. Prenuptial agreements can predetermine multiple things in the event of divorce – alimony (or spousal maintenance), property division, and other things as well. Typically, prenuptial agreements predetermine the property division side of divorce. Contrary to what many people think, prenuptial agreements aren’t exclusively used by “the 1%.” These agreements can confer great value to couples from all socioeconomic circumstances because they eliminate some of the uncertainty which follows the divorce process.

Another misconception many laypeople have is that prenuptial agreements are “special” agreements from a contractual standpoint. This is not really the case. Prenuptial agreements are essentially just regular contracts which focus on specific things, occur at a specific point in time, and fulfill a similar purpose. From a legal perspective, they are just standard contracts which go by a particular moniker.

Colorado is a “UPAA state,” which means that it follows a particular script when it comes to determining the facial validity and enforceability of prenuptial agreements. In this legal paradigm, fraud, duress, coercion and unconscionability may render an agreement unenforceable.

How Fraud, Duress and Coercion Impact the Enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements

To be facially valid, prenuptial agreements must be in writing, and they must be signed by both parties. Plus, these agreements cannot be the result of fraud, duress or coercion. Fraud, duress and coercion are fairly straightforward concepts, but determining the presence of one of these things in the formation of an agreement may be tricky in some situations. Fraud refers to someone who knowingly or willingly withholds certain information which is vital to the prenuptial agreement. Duress is a bit more difficult to define, but they essentially speak to the “acceptance” given by one of the parties. If a person is under duress, that person stressed or anxious in such a way that his or her acceptance of the prenuptial agreement terms may be undermined. Coercion means that one party was basically “forced” to accept the terms.

Unconscionability and Its Impact on the Enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements

Unconscionability means that the terms of the agreement are lopsided to the point where they are patently unreasonable. Typically, unconscionable agreements come about when there is a significant discrepancy in the “bargaining power” or position of the parties. For instance, one party may have less education or financial competency when compared with the other party, and the party in the superior position uses this to his or her advantage. Courts have determined that unconscionable contracts should be rendered unenforceable, as enforcing these contracts would be contrary to our basic ethical sensibilities. Unconscionability applies to prenuptial agreements just as it does to other types of contracts; if unconscionability is found, it will render the prenuptial agreement unenforceable.

Contact the Drake Law Firm for More Information

To learn more about prenuptial agreements, the enforceability of prenuptial agreements, or another related topic, connect with one of the family law attorneys at the Drake Law Firm today by calling 720-928-2381.

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