The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently ruled that a prenuptial agreement signed by future husband and wife-to-be one day before their wedding is valid and fully enforceable. Live and learn would be the motto related to this latest court ruling, since the document protected the groom's millions, while the bride apparently will be entitled to the love of their relationship going forward. Should a divorce loom in their future, the wife has little or no recourse.
Actually, this is a lesson to anyone considering a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. As a Birmingham family law and divorce attorney, I find this story quite sobering for clients and lawyers alike. The woman, in this case a real estate professional, was very familiar through her line of work with the power and durability of a signed legal document. But seemingly, in this instance, love had made her temporarily blind. Consulting a lawyer would have sharpened her vision substantially.
As a basis for its ruling, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals found that the wife was not prevented from reading the agreement, nor was she unfamiliar with reviewing something as important as a legal document prior to placing her signature upon it. And the fact that the prenup was signed by both parties just one day before the wedding was not considered sufficient to invalidate the agreement.
Apparently, the court also found it was important that the wife-to-be knew the husband was a “millionaire” prior to the marriage, and therefore was aware of the general extent of his assets at the time she signed the agreement. She exhibited a brief moment of clarity, as reports show that she had attempted to seek legal advice. However, when she learned that her lawyer was not available, she decided not to seek alternate counsel and signed the document anyway.
Even the most uninformed can see here that it was a mistake for this woman to sign a prenuptial agreement without consulting an attorney. At the very least, it was a risky proposition to be signing such a document just one day before the wedding. For future reference, it is always wise for both parties to work on a prenuptial agreement together, and then to have attorneys for the individual parties review the document prior to signing. That way, there should be no unpleasant surprises — and less chance for bad blood between the newly married couple.