The rules surrounding prenuptial agreements and Georgia alimony law are kind of interesting. Most people want to know the extent to which their prenuptial agreement will hold up in court, and whether they have any ability to have it changed or modified.
The answer? It depends.
What Is a Prenup (Prenuptial Agreement)?
Simply put, a prenup is a contract between two people who plan to get married. This contract covers the rights of each respective party in the event of a divorce somewhere down the line. The most frequent reason for a prenup is to prevent property and assets acquired before marriage from being divided between spouses upon divorce.
Where Does Alimony Enter the Picture?
It’s not uncommon for a prenuptial agreement to limit, establish or even eliminate alimony in the event of a divorce. Sometimes alimony will be outlined in specific clauses, with amounts correlating to actions or activities perpetrated by one of the spouses.
Typical examples include alimony exclusion if the party is found to have had an extramarital affair, or a tiered alimony system where the amount is determined by the length of time the spouses were married.
Are Prenuptial Agreements Valid in Georgia?
They are now. However, that wasn’t always the case.
Before 1982, the state of Georgia refused to honor prenuptial agreements, deeming them contrary to public policy. However, this changed when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that due to certain changes in society and legal standards, the Court could no longer justify upholding this interpretation.
However, this doesn’t mean ALL prenuptial agreements are valid.
Invalidating a Prenuptial Agreement
For a prenup to be legally binding, they must meet a few preconditions:
- The agreement was not obtained through fraud, duress, misrepresentation, nondisclosure or general mistake.
- The agreement cannot be considered unconscionable.
- The facts and circumstances under which the agreement was executed have not materially changed in such a way as to make its enforcement unfair, or unreasonable.
Those three bullets are a kind of fancy way of saying that both parties have to have had a good idea as to the other person’s character, assets, income, and overall prospects.
If you can prove a violation of any one of the three conditions listed above, then the agreement can be invalidated. However, the state of Georgia has an exceptionally high bar for proving duress or unconscionability. For example, you cannot claim you were forced into signing the agreement as a precondition for marriage and, therefore, were coerced or otherwise under duress. Or that lack of parity in asset division outlined in the agreement would, therefore, make it unconscionable.
Looking for a Family Law Attorney in or Around Atlanta?
If you still need to find out more about the nuances of Georgia alimony law, call (770) 475-2521 for a free consultation.