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Marriage can be one of the best things that ever happens in your life, allowing you to be legally joined to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Unfortunately, with more than 1 million American marriages ending in divorce annually, statistics show that there is a fairly good chance that your marriage won’t last.
Protect Your Assets with a Prenuptial Agreement
This means that you might want to consider protecting your assets with a prenuptial agreement. Although it might not be the most romantic proposition, having your spouse sign a prenuptial agreement is really the only way to ensure that you won’t potentially lose half of your assets should your marriage unfortunately end in divorce.
More People are Getting Prenups These Days
The number of couples that sign prenuptial agreements is now more than five times what it was a few decades ago. Whereas prenuptials were mostly only used by the extremely wealthy in previous times, nowadays couples from all walks of life are finding that signing a prenup is a smart way to protect themselves in case their marriage is one of the many that end in divorce.
long island Prenuptial Agreements
New York law has specific rules that govern how property, money and other assets should be divided in the event that a marriage ends due to divorce or death. This means that your assets will essentially be in the hands of the court and it will be up to a judge to determine how the property should be divided. No matter whether you were in sole possession of all of the property and assets prior to the marriage, the court can still determine that your spouse deserves half of all your assets in a divorce.
Prenups and New York Law
However, New York marriage statutes also specifically state that any contract entered into by you and your spouse in consideration of marriage will remain fully valid after you are legally married. This statute specifies that any prenuptial agreement you and your spouse sign will supersede the state’s divorce rules. In essence, this means that a prenuptial agreement allows you to determine how your assets will be divided in case of divorce instead of relying on a court to divide up the assets.
Creating a Valid Prenuptial Agreement
Although the law allows you and your spouse to sign a prenuptial contract, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a court will recognize it as valid. The reason is that the prenuptial agreement must meet a number of conditions in order to be legally valid, which makes it essential that you hire a long island prenuptial lawyer to assist in creating the agreement.
In order for a court to recognize a prenuptial agreement as valid, both spouses must agree to the agreement of their own free will. Should a court determine that your spouse signed the agreement under duress or was coerced or forced to sign, the prenuptial will automatically be voided. The prenuptial agreement must also be fair, which means that it cannot be too disproportionate or force one partner to give up too much.
One area where New York law differs from others is where it concerns disclosure of assets. Whereas some states require that both parties fully disclose all assets when entering into a prenuptial agreement, New York has no such requirement. However, should you choose to disclose your assets, it is imperative that you don’t attempt to hide or misrepresent them as misrepresenting your financial situation can be grounds for having the agreement nullified.
What Can’t You Cover in a Prenuptial
There are a number of clauses that cannot be included in a prenup, even if they are connected to finances.
Support, Visitation, and Custody of Children
Nothing connected to the custody, visitation, and support of your children or future children can be included in a prenuptial agreement. While child support is a monetary concern, courts in New York will determine at the time of the divorce who the primary custodian of the children should be, who would be responsible for making child support payments, and how much child support needs to be paid. No minimum amount of child support can be listed in a prenuptial agreement.
Clauses That are Not Based on Finances
Any terms that are not monetarily-based need to be excluded from a long island prenuptial agreement. For instance, your prenuptial agreement cannot stipulate the frequency of sex, housework requirements or requirements for physical appearance. In some scenarios, long island courts will simply ignore these kinds of clauses. There are some cases in which a court will rule that terms like these render the entire prenuptial agreement invalid. That said, the best course of action is to keep these clauses out.
Even though a prenup is legally binding, a judge may render it invalid if any of the terms are considered deceitful, unfair, or unjust. Your long island divorce attorney can review the proposed prenup before you sign to ensure it doesn’t contain terms that would be considered unfair for you. If you are a homemaker by mutual decision between you and your spouse, for example, and your prenup only has provisions for the spouse who actually earned monetary assets without regard to how your work benefitted the family, this would be considered unfair.
Only long island prenuptial agreements that are in writing and signed by both spouses can be considered valid. Verbal agreements are not valid in the state of New York. Also, any agreement made with your spouse verbally in the absence of documentation is not enforceable should the marriage end in divorce. If you and your spouse have agreed to something, make sure you put it in writing, otherwise it is useless.
What Can a long island Prenuptial Lawyer Do For You?
Hiring a long island prenuptial lawyer is obviously important in terms of writing the agreement so that it is legally valid. Moreover, you and your partner are specifically required by New York law to each have your own independent legal counsel to guide you through the process. In addition, the signing of the prenuptial agreement must be properly witnessed by a notary public in order for it to be considered valid.
Most prenuptial lawyers tend to be either divorce or estate planning attorneys, which means that they have intimate knowledge of these legal fields. This is essential when creating a prenuptial agreement as the laws allow these agreements to be customized to cover a wide range of assets and potential issues. For instance, the prenup can cover things such as division of personal and joint property and assets, as well as alimony and even child support.
The laws governing prenuptial agreements are incredibly complex and can be impossible to navigate on your own. By hiring a long island prenuptial attorney, you’ll receive assistance to guide you through the process and also ensure that the document is written in a way so as to be legally valid. For this reason, if you are considering getting married, it is imperative that you contact a long island prenuptial attorney to ensure the process of signing a prenup goes smoothly.