Many Mississippi couples have taken advantage of a statute enacted in 1972 that made premarital agreements valid and enforceable as long as they comply with the enabling statute.
Unfortunately, some individuals who signed premarital agreements have found that the agreement was oppressive or the result of fraud or coercion by the other spouse. The natural question asked by these people is whether the “prenup” is enforceable. Fortunately, the enabling statute provides several answers to this question.
The first potential escape hatch from an oppressive prenup is proof that the party against whom enforcement is sought was coerced into signing the agreement.
All prenups in Mississippi must be in writing and signed by both parties before the wedding. Failure to observe these formalities will cause a court to declare the agreement to be unenforceable.
Coercion can take various forms, including a threat to abandon the wedding, the imposition of financial penalties after the marriage, pressure to sign applied by the family or friends of the person now seeking enforcement.
Perhaps the most common ground for invalidating a prenuptial agreement is proof that it was unconscionable before it was signed and has remained unconscionable ever since. The party opposing enforcement must prove that they were denied the opportunity to read the agreement and show it to an independent attorney prior to signing it or did not receive a fair and adequate disclosure of the other party’s financial situation before signing the document.
The party resisting enforcement of the agreement must also prove that the right to obtain disclosure of the other party’s financial situation was not voluntarily waived in writing.
Enforcement of a prenup may also be denied if the party seeking enforcement deliberately misrepresented his or financial status to obtain the signature of the party resisting enforcement.