When Prenups Fail

NOTHING CAN BREAK the romance like having the prenup conversation. But for many soon-to-be newlyweds, signing a prenuptial agreement is like buying fire insurance: You hate to think your house could burn down, but if it did, you’d be spared a lot of time, money and aggravation.

Prenups are touted as a particularly useful tool for high-net-worth individuals, small-business owners or folks entering a second marriage, particularly if they have children from the first one. And they can be. But prenups aren’t always as rock solid as one may assume. In some cases, a spouse can challenge the prenup during a divorce and get the court to overthrow it.

The number of prenup challenges is on the rise, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML): 44% of the respondents said they’ve seen an increase over the last five years, compared with 18% who said they’ve seen a decrease. (The rest reported no change.)

Although the grounds that a spouse may use to challenge a prenup vary by state — and if you’re planning on signing a prenup you’re best off working with a qualified attorney who’s fully versed in your state’s laws — some rules apply across the board. Here are six.