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What is an unconscionable prenuptial agreement?

The period between an engagement and the wedding ceremony is perhaps the most romantic time for a couple-the anticipation, excitement and elation that one feels before getting married is unparalleled and simply talking to one's future spouse is a delightful experience. But when the conversation turns to a prenuptial agreement, all the romance goes out of the equation. Discussing how to divide property and debt in the event of a divorce, before the couple even gets married, is a damper on all joyful emotion.

Even though marriage is a financial partnership in addition to a romantic one, many couples avoid the topic because they don't want to taint the occasion with discussions of the marriage ending. However, confronting these issues head-on early, before they crop up during a disagreement later or cause family law issues in the event of a divorce, is a sound decision. And getting an experienced attorney on one's side to handle the intricate details can ensure the couple doesn't have to get into it with one another. Without a prenuptial agreement, the courts in Missouri will decide how to divide the marital property according to what they consider is just.

In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid in Missouri, it must be in writing and signed by both parties, accompanied by attestation. Oral prenuptials are unenforceable, as are unconscionable ones. An unconscionable one is that which is one-sided, placing an unreasonable burden on one of the parties. Parties must enter into the agreement voluntarily, with full knowledge of what they are getting into and understand the legal ramifications of the document they are entering into.

If a couple does decide to sign a prenuptial agreement, one party may feel pressured to go through the motions to get the matter resolved quickly, but it is important to understand the terms to which one is agreeing. Though no one wants to anticipate what will happen if the marriage ends, it is a possibility that one should be prepared for and an enforceable prenuptial agreement is one way to achieve property division on one's own terns.

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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