In Houston, we all know what a prenuptial agreement is. We hear about it constantly in the context of celebrity divorce, and some of us may have a prenup ourselves. We also know why people get prenups: to protect their assets in case of divorce.

For people who have prenups and end up getting divorced, the split can be much easier because most of the provisions have already been determined. But what happens if someone changes their mind and wants to challenge a prenup? It doesn’t work often, but there are a few main things to look for in order to break a prenup. On the flip side, those considering drawing up a prenuptial agreement may want to pay special attention to these areas, as it could save some hassle down the road.

First, to be valid, a prenup has to have been signed voluntarily by both parties. If it was signed in duress by one party, the contract could be deemed invalid. Proving this, however, is no easy feat and not as simple as proving your spouse gave you the ultimatum of the wedding for the prenup. As one attorney said, “Literally, you’d have to have a gun next to your head.”

If your prenup was signed voluntarily, you can look to the declaration of assets. Honesty is key in family law contracts and settlements. If it’s found that your spouse hid a substantial amount of assets, the prenup could be overturned. So when drafting a prenup, make sure you’re being upfront about everything you own.

Finally, the conditions of a prenup must be enforceable. If, for example, the prenup says your ex doesn’t have to pay child support, a judge would probably do a double-take and consider breaking the prenup.

In the end, it’s important that a prenup be signed willingly, be enforceable and be honest. If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement or have questions about whether yours is valid, it may be helpful to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Reuters, “Breaking up is hard to do, breaking prenup is harder,” Geoff Williams, Oct. 5, 2012