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Preparing for a marriage is often about more than choosing a caterer and wedding colors. There are many good reasons to work with a Brooklyn prenuptials attorney as you plan for your marriage. Taking the time to create an agreement can give you clarity and peace of mind as you plan for the future.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
When a couple enters into a binding contract about the terms of their marriage, it’s called a prenuptial agreement. This agreement can address a wide variety of issues that surround a marriage and division of property. When a prenuptial agreement is prepared in compliance with New York law, the courts generally uphold them if the marriage dissolves
What Makes a Prenuptial Agreement Valid?
There are several details that must be in place for a prenuptial agreement to be valid. The contract must be reasonable. That is, it shouldn’t favor either party unfairly. While a contract can make certain limitations such as limiting a party’s right to spousal support, the contract can’t be so one sided that it’s unfair to enforce it.
In addition, both parties should have their own attorneys in order to create the prenuptial agreement. That means having an attorney to explain to you what the contract means and how it might play out in the future. Additionally, the agreement must be in writing. Agreements that are oral aren’t enforceable.
Making a Prenuptial Agreement
To make a prenuptial agreement, each side must fully disclose their assets. Only giving the other side full information allows the parties to enter into the agreement voluntarily. If either party withholds information, the entire agreement might be invalid.
An agreement can address many different aspects of real and personal property. The parties can agree that certain pieces of property are separate property. That means that they aren’t part of the marital estate to divide in the event of a divorce.
In addition to making agreements that relate to assets, a contract can also make agreements that relate to debt. If one party enters the marriage with significant debt, the agreement can talk about who keeps that debt in the event of a dissolution of a marriage. This is helpful to give a spouse peace of mind that they don’t have to assume non-secured debt or student loans that their spouse incurs before the marriage.
Other Common Issues in Prenuptials
Spousal support is another common issue to consider as part of a prenuptial agreement. An agreement can limit spousal support, or it can guarantee a certain amount of support. In cases where one party makes career changes for the sake of the marriage, addressing spousal support in the prenuptial agreement can give both parties clear expectations and peace of mind. Some agreements also address a situation where a person brings children from a prior relationship into the household who may require support.
A Brooklyn prenuptial lawyer can also help you make an agreement that discusses disposition of certain assets. If one of the parties expects to receive an inheritance, the parties can agree to keep that inheritance a separate asset. In addition, the parties can agree which person retains certain heirlooms or other items of important property.
Can it Address Child Custody or Child Support?
It’s important to keep in mind that a New York prenuptial agreement can’t talk about child custody or child support. New York law says that the courts should make decisions about what’s in the best interests of the child. In many cases, this doesn’t coincide with the wishes of the parents before the parents even have children. The court says that the best interests of the children are more important than the bargaining rights of the parents.
This includes child support. The parents can’t agree to have a parent pay a child support amount that’s different than what’s appropriate under New York law. The courts don’t allow parents to bargain away their right to support.
In addition to prenuptial agreements, our Brooklyn prenuptial lawyers have experience drafting postnuptial agreements. A postnuptial is a contract that the parties enter into after they’re married. The things that the couple can address in a postnuptial agreement are similar to the things that a prenuptial agreement can address. However, it’s extremely important to work with an experienced attorney, because the court looks for coercion or an imbalance of power when they decide whether to uphold the agreement.
Why Get a Postnuptial
Much like in the creation of a prenup, in a postnuptial agreement, both parties need to be completely transparent about all their assets and liabilities. The agreement can deal with the rights and responsibilities of the spouses during the course of the marriage, as well as the division of property and spousal maintenance issues if the couple ever gets divorced.
Changes in financial situations, relationships and roles sometimes occur in a marriage. Here below are a few common scenarios that might prompt a couple to enter a postnuptial agreement.
- One spouse may give up their career to stay home with the children. That spouse may want to be certain their financial interests are protected in case of divorce.
- A couple starts a new business together and they need to discern in writing the differences among business, marital and separate assets.
- One of the spouses suddenly comes into a big inheritance. In most such cases, a court would award the inheritance solely to that spouse if the marriage is dissolved. The couple may wish to distribute the inheritance differently than it would be distributed under New York law or to make it clear which property is part of the inheritance so it is not intermingled with marital assets.
- A spouse amassed significant debt prior to the marriage, and the other one wishes to clarify they are not responsible for it.
- A new situation brought on a loss of trust in the relationship, such as infidelity.
Let’s Work Together
When you’re thinking about an upcoming marriage or you want to create a contract for an existing marriage, we’re experienced attorneys, and we’re here to help. When we work with a client, we help you understand what your options are for preparing a prenuptial agreement. Then, we make sure that you understand what the effects of the agreement might be in the future. Contact us today, and let’s work together to make a plan for you.