‘Indentured Servant’ Prenup Thrown Out

If you are getting married, it’s probably not the best idea to present your soon-to-be spouse with a prenuptial agreement just days before the wedding. It’s an even worse idea to demand they sign it, or the wedding is off.

Earlier this month, the Nebraska Supreme Court threw out a prenuptial agreement after determining that the wife, Valara Marmot, was coerced into signing the document, and that she didn’t understand the legal implications of doing so.

Valara’s ex-husband, Kevin Marmot, didn’t present the premarital agreement to her until 5 days before the wedding, during their lunch hour. Valara said she would have her lawyer take a look, but Kevin claimed they didn’t have time for that. He told her, “You’ve got to get this signed, otherwise we’re not getting married Saturday.”

The premarital agreement stated that both Valara and Kevin would retain sole ownership of all their own property “now owned or hereafter acquired.” Stipulation in the agreement left Valara as a homemaker who had “no possibility of accumulating any assets” during the marriage.

A judge ruled the agreement “one-sided” and “overreaching,” stating that the prenup defied the basic structure of the marital relationship. Although he called the agreement unconscionable and felt it made Valara an “indentured servant,” he found that the agreement was enforceable. But the Supreme Court disagreed, and the prenup was tossed out.

Florida law mandates that prenuptial agreements must be entered into voluntarily, without coercion. Ideally, both parties entering into a prenuptial agreement should have the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Because the legal requirements of an enforceable prenuptial agreement are complex, an attorney with a keen eye for detail is an invaluable resource.

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