Chris Blewitt can do nothing about the name he carries, but that has not stopped football fans from snickering over the Chicago Bears’ newly signed kicker. At least, though, the guy on whose foot many a future Bears’ win may depend has a real name, unfortunate as it may be. Fraudulent information, like a fake name (spies and criminals prefer the term “alias”) is one of seven ways to invalidate a Virginia prenuptial agreement.
Hide something; forget something; falsely claim to own a stable of polo ponies when you actually own a couple of Corgis. Hiding assets, using a fake name, inflating assets or undervaluing them are all forms of fraud when you put it in writing in a prenuptial agreement.
Consequences go beyond voiding the marriage; you or your highly suspect bride could face other legal punishments.
Say you are compelled by a strong-armed fiancée to sign off on a prenuptial agreement, or say her three older brothers made clear that you needed to sign or they would be taking you for what they called a “camping trip” to the Old House Woods (“The cursed forest of Virginia”). If you are coerced into signing, your prenup is invalid. Don’t believe us? Check out Code of Virginia § 20-151, part of the Premarital Agreement Act:
A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the person against whom enforcement is sought proves that:
- That person did not execute the agreement voluntarily …
Leave it to your Virginia family law attorney to prove, legally, that you were pressured or compelled. Your attorney’s job may be as simple as calling Vern, Jethro, and Gimpy-Joe to the stand to answer pointed questions about that camping trip …
#3: Spoken, Not Written
That same law stipulates, in § 20-149, that a premarital agreement (a prenup) must be in writing and signed by both parties. You cannot both just agree, shake hands, and expect that spoken “contract” to withstand a Virginia judge’s withering gaze.
The reason is obvious: her “memory” of what you agreed upon may differ vastly from your memory. Get the prenup in writing, using the expertise of a Virginia family law attorney who can draft an effective prenup that protects your rights.
#4: Cruella DaVille Wrote It
A premarital agreement that is, in the wise wording of § 20-151, “unconscionable” is not enforceable. If, under the hypnotizing spell of the object of your infatuation, you sign away all your rights to your beloved, a Virginia court will likely back you 100 percent when you wise up and realize she took you.
This means ridiculous, lopsided agreements will not pass a court sniff test. Examples include:
- Wording that precludes future child support in the event of a divorce after you two have children
- Wording that dictates sexual encounters five nights a week, weight loss or unacceptable weight gain, where to stow your mother-in-law during her visits (although, come to think of it …)
- Wording that shifts significant financial assets from you to her (or from her to you)
#5 I Can Catch My Hand!
If you signed a prenup while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, anesthesia, or while coming out of a coma, the agreement is void. Her attempts to ply you with liquor or narcotics, just to get your shaky signature on the document, should set of alarm bells when you start thinking straight. Contact your family law attorney and select the precise phrasing for the crime:
Claim mental incapacity. You were in no condition to sign a legally binding agreement. How else to explain agreeing to stipulation #7, “Groom shall forever and always refer to Bride as ‘The Right Honorable Goddess of All She Surveys?'”
Proving this may be embarrassing, as your attorney may need to call witnesses to testify that you were nearly face-down on a bar table when your lovely fiancée guided your bourbon-limp hand and a pen across a prenup agreement. But, such a provable claim will get you out of the prenup.
#6 Cloak and Dagger
A prenup agreement that mysteriously appears out of seemingly thin air, with no witnesses, no legal counsel, and only your and her signatures — now that is the stuff of legal drama.
Have real attorneys draft and review the prenup. Have witnesses watch you two sign it, and then have them sign it. Sure, you two may think you are in some Hollywood Rom-Com and try to dash off a prenup in the church coat closet before the wedding. Just do not think for an instant that your cutesy, giddy “look what we did” routine will satisfy any Virginia judge.
#7 On The Line
Last, a prenup that does not bear both your legal signatures (as in, your real names, in ink, in your signature writing whether cursive or manuscript) is not valid.
You both have a right to legal counsel. You both have a duty to take the prenup seriously and solemnize it as formally as you will the marriage itself.
So, if your name really is Chris Blewitt, sign with pride on the line. Make sure your fiancée —we’ll call her Cletorious Aretha (no, we’re not making that up) — also signs.
For practical, proper help executing a premarital agreement or prenup, turn to The Firm For Men by contacting us online or by calling 757-383-9184. We can do little for you if your name is Wiserman Always Fifty (yes, he had a Virginia judge change it to that, from Prescott Tracey, Jr.), but we can help with your family law challenges.