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Getting married is a big step to take, and the preparation can be stressful. One important step every couple should take is setting up a prenuptial agreement, which is often shorted to a prenup. Just like the name suggests, this is an agreement that you and your future spouse sign into before the wedding.
Prenups can be a touchy subject, but the reality is that every couple needs one. Not getting a prenup can come back to haunt you later. Here’s all that you need to know about the prenup process and why you should get one.
The Basics on a Prenup
It’s not hard to understand how a prenup works. A prenup is a legal contract that each spouse enters into before they get married, and it covers exactly what will happen in the event of a divorce. If the couple stays together, the prenup will never come into effect.
A less common agreement is a postnuptial agreement. This functions exactly the same as a prenup, with the key difference being that the couple agrees to it after they get married. The risk with a postnuptial agreement is that you and your spouse may not agree to terms, and at that point, you’re already married. While a postnuptial agreement works, it’s better to sort everything out before your wedding day.
What to Cover on Your Prenup
Now let’s examine what a prenup should cover. Keep in mind that this will depend quite a bit on you, your future spouse and what assets you two have. A few key areas to consider for your prenup are:
Marital assets are often the most complex part of putting together a prenup. In a typical marriage that takes place in Manhattan, assets that each spouse had before the marriage remain their property. Anything a couple gets together is a shared marital asset, and anything one spouse buys alone belongs to them.
Although this is how it generally works, it’s best not to rely on this, because a court could decide differently. That’s why it’s better to clarify who will keep what assets in a divorce through a prenup.
A prenup can clarify whether either spouse will pay Spousal support to the other after the marriage. If so, it should specify the amount paid and how long this will last. If there will be no Spousal support, the prenup should clarify that.
Child custody and support arrangements are obviously important for couples with children, but even if you and your future spouse don’t have kids yet, you should still include provisions in the prenup for what will happen if you have kids and later get divorced.
Benefits of a Prenup
People often find the idea of getting a prenup unromantic, and even though that may be true, it’s the smart thing to do. A prenup is like an insurance policy. You obviously never want to need it, but if you’re in a situation where you do, then you’ll be glad you got it.
Divorces are often expensive, especially if you and your spouse can’t agree on the terms and go through a contested divorce. And at that point, neither of you have control of what’s going to happen, because the court will decide. With a prenup, you two can at least figure everything out yourselves.
Consulting with a Lawyer
You and your spouse can agree on the terms of a prenup, but it’s best for each of you to have your own attorney look it over. Here’s why – Manhattan courts can and have tossed out valid prenups for all kinds of reasons. If your prenup heavily favors one spouse over the other, a court could decide not to use it.
A lawyer can check your prenup to see that it’s balanced and that it’s fair to you. Since you and your future spouse are separate parties here and essentially on opposite sides of the prenup, you each need your own lawyer to represent your interests.
When you each have your own lawyers, it’s also unlikely that the prenup will be declared invalid later because one party signed it under duress.
The bottom line is that if you’re going to get married, a prenup is the wise choice, and a lawyer will help you handle it correctly.
While no one wants to consider the event of making good on a prenuptial agreement someday down the road, hiring a Manhattan prenuptial attorney to help you arrange one of these legal agreements may be one of the best ways to protect your assets and retain your personal sovereignty. A prenuptial agreement, also called an antenuptial agreement, is a written contract entered into by you and your future spouse. Both you and your partner disclose all of the money and property in your possession and arrange for how these assets will be cared for during the marriage. Most importantly, an experienced Manhattan prenuptial attorney can also help you and your future spouse navigate the critical process of deciding how your joint assets will be divided up in the event of divorce or the death of one of the partners.
Why Should You Get a Prenuptial Agreement?
While New York State already has laws in place to handle the division of property in case of divorce or the death of your spouse, judges will uphold a properly filed prenuptial agreement in lieu of the state laws. While Manhattan prenuptial attorneys are usually hired by the wealthier party before marriage, protecting personal wealth isn’t the only reason it may be wise to enter into a prenuptial agreement.
If you have any amount of inheritance set aside for your child or children, a prenuptial agreement can assure that this inheritance isn’t included in the general divorce proceedings. Or, if you have a family home or furniture that has emotional meaning, this may also be one of the items you consider discussing with a prenuptial attorney. And, of course, if you do have a large amount of personal wealth, it can make sense to protect it with a prenuptial agreement for tax purposes and to protect yourself against future separation from your spouse.
What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Consist Of?
An antenuptial agreement can essentially consist of any relevant points that a couple agrees upon, but some of the most common issues clarified with a prenup include each spouse’s right to property both individually and jointly owned during the marriage and in the event of divorce or death and the distribution of other assets and debts. A prenuptial agreement also covers each spouse’s right to manage and sell property owned by either partner and the ability of each partner to make family business decisions.
A proper prenuptial agreement written up by Manhattan prenuptial attorneys will also take into account the New York State laws that affect the contract and each spouse’s right to benefits accrued from the other partner’s life insurance policy. This agreement will also thoroughly cover the topic of alimony, including the exact amount of alimony is to be awarded for what duration of time. A prenuptial agreement can also cover a number of other topics that either partner finds pertinent and can have some bearing on custody battles down the road, though a New York judge will only use a prenuptial agreement as a piece of evidence in a custody case and will make their decision in light of a number of other factors as well.
Setting up a Prenup the Right Way
Getting set up with a prenuptial agreement may end up being one of the wiser choices you ever make, but the specifics of developing this sort of legal contract can be tricky and are greatly simplified by contracting the services of Manhattan prenuptial attorneys. While establishing the validity of a prenuptial agreement made in New York technically only requires that the document be signed in the presence of a notary public, it’s important that you and your spouse work with separate attorneys in order to avoid suspicion in court.
Prenuptial agreements are only held up in New York courts if they are properly put in writing and notarized, neither party is under was under 18 or mentally incompetent at the time of signing, and neither spouse was deceived or treated with severe unfairness by the points in the agreement. Also, if in disclosing their assets either future spouse misrepresents their financial situation the resulting prenuptial agreement is likely to be overturned.
For all these reasons and more, it simply makes sense to work with a qualified prenuptial attorney in Manhattan when drafting this complicated agreement. Prenuptial attorneys are well-versed in every aspect of the process and you can vastly increase the likelihood of your antenuptial agreement being held up in court by taking advantage of their expertise.
A prenuptial agreement isn’t required to get married, so, in that respect, no one is required to get one. However, many couples see the advantages of having one in place and seek out an experienced attorney to help get one drafted. Under what circumstances is a prenuptial agreement most beneficial, then?
The goal is to protect your assets in a divorce settlement, so, before tying the knot, you may want to look at your specific situation. For instance, if you own your own business, expect a large increase in income, or anticipate receiving a sizable inheritance, a prenuptial agreement may be your best course of action. This is especially true if you’re significantly wealthier than your intended spouse.
Prenuptial agreements are often utilized in situations where one spouse expects to support the other spouse, while he or she pursues a college degree. In that case, the agreement may establish conditions under which that support must be repaid, or it may line out other considerations. Similarly, one spouse may expect to pursue a degree or certification that will lead to a more financially rewarding career.
There are a few other conditions under which a prenuptial agreement may be considered. The possession of real estate, stocks, retirement accounts, etc. are all items that you would want protected from a divorce settlement. Also, one spouse may have older parents or young children who depend on them for their financial future. Under such circumstances, they will want to ensure funds intended for them aren’t dispensed in a divorce settlement.
In many cases, a well planned prenuptial agreement can limit the length and scope of a divorce court hearing. If property issues are settled in the agreement, there’s little need to rehash those details at the time of the divorce, ensuring a quicker settlement. There are some items that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, however.
Where children are products of the marriage, there will be issues of custody, visitation, and support to settle. The terms and reasons for the divorce may have a direct bearing on what’s best for the children, so including these items in a prenuptial agreement may just be a waste of time and resources. In the end, it’s up to family court to determine the best situations for any children involved and there’s no telling how that may be affected in the years between the drafting of the prenuptial agreement and the time of the divorce.
As a rule, any details that don’t directly deal with the distribution of property and finances should be omitted from the prenuptial agreement. Errors of this nature are common in agreements drafted without the assistance of an experienced lawyer. While hiring a family law attorney may create an added expense, it may be worth it to ensure the prenuptial agreement isn’t invalidated at the time of divorce.
Newlyweds can be a little hesitant about a prenuptial agreement. But many have chosen this option as an additional layer of security. If you do as well, you should let a trained attorney guide you through the process.
Vindictive Spouse Syndrome
You and your significant other may be madly in love, but love tends to turn into fury when something bad happens. That rage can lead one to make questionable decisions that he or she would not otherwise make. The estranged spouse might threaten your visitation with the children, take your property and leave you penniless. A prenuptial agreement drafted by an attorney would secure both parties in the event that one of you contracts vindictive spouse syndrome.
The Objectivity of An Attorney
As a relationship reaches its emotional peak, you might have a very high perspective of your significant other. This can sometimes compromise one’s ability to think rationally about an issue. This is often how abusive relationships happen. One party will be the best person that he or she can be until they get settled into the marriage. Then if you want a divorce, it will be more complicated.
Neither Party Will Be Trapped
A characteristic of a loveless marriage is that one party does not really want to be there, but he or she has no other options. If that party were to leave, the spouse would not provide sufficient funds. A prenuptial agreement can prevent that bad situation.
An Invalid prenup
If you try to draft a prenuptial agreement without an attorney, you could run into some problems. When the time comes to use it, the judge might tell you that it is invalid. There are several reasons that a prenup would be invalid. If it violates public policy laws regarding parental visitation or property rights, then it would be an invalid contract. The court will also not enforce non-monetary stipulations. There are several other examples like this one, and a lawyer will be able to identify them for you.
The Strength of the Contract
Much like how all contracts can be contested, your prenuptial agreement can be contested in a divorce hearing. If your prenuptial agreement is valid, then it should hold up in court. Some poorly-composed prenuptial agreements can be deemed invalid by a family court judge.
A second look at a prenuptial agreement may reveal a host of gross errors in the document that, under New York state law, would render the prenuptial agreement useless. Incomplete or false information in the document can both be cited as grounds for requesting a prenuptial agreement be invalidated.
A well informed Manhattan prenuptial lawyer is not likely to make such gross errors when drawing up a prenuptial agreement. Years of experience creating prenuptial agreements and litigating the agreements in family law court collaboratively contribute to legal expertise.
The main point is that a prenuptial agreement drafted by an attorney should possess the validity necessary to be upheld in court.
Of course, those contesting a prenuptial agreement may be able to do so successfully even when an attorney has written up the document. Another duty an attorney can perform would be a review of the agreement. If flaws are discovered, then the attorney can argue the document fails the validity test in New York.
Financial Decisions During Marriage
A prenuptial agreement does not merely cover issues that arise in the event of a divorce. It also dictates how finances will be managed during the course of the marriage. You will decide whether you want joint accounts or if you want to keep your finances separate. This also disarms the common assumption that a prenuptial agreement sets a precedent for divorce. It is actually a binding contract designed to manage the marriage.
Protection From The Unknown
One of the most intimidating aspects of divorce is that neither party knows what their life will look like should the marriage end. They are concerned about their relationship with their children and their assets. A prenup will provide necessary information for a stress-free life. Of course, a trained attorney will be necessary for that to ensure that there are no problems with the agreement.
Potentially Save Money
If you hire an attorney now to draft a prenuptial agreement, it could save on lawyer fees in the future. A divorce often leads to court proceedings to determine assets and parental rights. Since a prenup would settle those issues, a trial would be unnecessary.
If your spouse has a few outstanding debts (such as student loans), that probably would not change your desire to get married. But you might not want to share that responsibility. An attorney can draft a prenup stipulating that both parties will be responsible for their own debt.
You might think that your will can properly represent your wishes. But sometimes family members who are left out of a will (or did not receive a favorable inheritance) can contest it. If they are successful, your assets will be distributed to your next of kin independently of your wishes. A prenuptial agreement under the supervision of an attorney will function as an additional testament to your wishes. This is also another reason that a prenup is not just about divorce. It is about your personal security and finances.
Children From A Prior Marriage
If you have children from a prior marriage, then your spouse should know that they come first. With that being the case, he or she should be willing to sign a prenup for their sake. In the event of your death or a divorce, you might not want your spouse to take custody of the children. Let a lawyer handle that clause for you.
If you pay for your spouse’s tuition while he or she is pursuing a degree, you are essentially making an investment. When he or she graduates, you will have a more prosperous lifestyle. But if you get a divorce, then your spouse will reap the rewards of the degree and you will lose your investment. A wise attorney will prepare for this problem by including the value of the degree in the prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is not indicative of lost love. It is a mechanism for managing the marriage and preparing for the worst.