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When Can a Wisconsin Court Rule That a Prenup Is Invalid?

 Posted on May 21, 2024 in Family Law

Milwaukee, WI prenuptial agreement lawyer

Prenuptial agreements, commonly referred to as "prenups," are legal agreements that couples may enter into before marriage. A prenup may protect assets belonging to either spouse and determine how certain issues will be handled if the couple chooses to get a divorce.

While these agreements can be valuable tools for protecting the interests of both parties, there are circumstances under which a court in Wisconsin may declare that a prenup is invalid. Understanding these circumstances is essential to anyone who is considering writing a prenup or anyone who already has a prenup and is considering divorce. An experienced Milwaukee family law attorney can provide guidance on how to ensure that the agreement will be enforceable.

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

Under Wisconsin law, prenuptial agreements are known as marital property agreements. These agreements can clarify the financial rights and responsibilities of each party during marriage. A prenup will typically cover issues such as the rights of each party concerning different assets and the division of marital property in a divorce. It may also make decisions about spousal support, inheritance rights, and other financial concerns. The enforceability of a prenuptial agreement will often depend on whether specific legal criteria were met at the time the agreement was signed.

Reasons a Prenup May Be Deemed Invalid

The validity of a prenuptial agreement can be contested under several grounds. Some reasons why a court in Milwaukee might rule a prenup invalid include the following.

Coercion, Lack of Free Will, or Lack of Counsel 

Both parties must voluntarily agree to the terms of a prenup and be allowed to consult with an attorney to ensure that they fully understand how the agreement may affect their finances. If one party was coerced into signing the agreement, did not do so of his or her own free will, or did not have an attorney to represent him or her while signing, the agreement can be invalidated.

While it may not be easy to prove one was manipulated into signing a prenup, the timing surrounding the signing of the agreement may be suspect. For example, if one spouse presented the other with a prenuptial agreement on the day of their wedding and stated that they could not get married unless the agreement was signed, this may be considered coercion or manipulation. The other spouse would not have had a chance to fully review and consider the agreement and consult with an attorney.

Fraud or Misrepresentation 

A prenup must be based on full and fair disclosure of all relevant financial information. Each spouse should be fully aware of the other’s income, assets, and liabilities to ensure that each understands the impact of the decisions made in the agreement. If one party conceals, omits, or misrepresents information about his or her financial situation, the agreement may be deemed fraudulent and thus unenforceable.


An agreement that is extremely unfair to one party or unethical may be found invalid. For example, if the terms of a prenup would give one spouse the vast majority of a couple’s assets, leaving the other spouse with limited financial resources and requiring him or her to rely on public assistance, the agreement would likely be considered to be unconscionable. Thus, the court could find it invalid. However, it is important to note that although a prenup may favor one spouse, this does not alone deem the agreement to be invalid.

Legal Violations 

If the agreement contains provisions that violate Wisconsin law or public policy, it may not be upheld by the courts. For example, a prenup cannot make decisions about child custody or waive a spouse’s obligation to pay child support or alimony. If a prenup includes terms that would violate the law, these terms will not be enforceable, and a court may even rule that the entire agreement is invalid.

Contact Our Milwaukee Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers

If you are considering whether you should create a prenuptial agreement as you prepare to get married or if you need to understand how your prenup may affect your divorce, Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can advise you of your rights and ensure that your interests will be protected. Our Milwaukee, WI prenup attorneys can provide you with legal guidance and representation, and we will help you resolve any issues that you may encounter while ensuring that you will be financially protected in the future. Contact our firm at 414-271-1440 to schedule a free consultation.

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