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There are many reasons that couples may want to enter into a prenuptial agreement before they head down the isle. Of course, differences in financial situation between the people entering into the marriage is one reason. Creating a prenuptial agreement requires the couple to have a frank conversation about finances and about their expectations for the marriage. Ultimately, the work that the couple does when they create a prenuptial agreement can make their relationship stronger.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a written, contractual agreement that a couple enters into before they marry. It spells out how the couple plans to divide assets in the event that the marriage ends. If done in accordance with New York law, the courts generally uphold these agreements.
Identify separate property
One important thing that a prenuptial agreement does is list pieces of property that the parties want to keep separate from marital property. This can be real property like land, or it can be items of personal property. The parties can make decisions about whether to keep some property separate from marital property so that they receive this property outside of the division of marital assets in the event of a divorce. This is also helpful if one of the parties expects to receive an inheritance. The parties can agree to keep the inheritance separate from marital funds.
Address spousal support
One of the most common reasons to enter into a prenuptial agreement is to address spousal support. An agreement can spell out exactly how much one spouse pays the other in the event that the marriage dissolves. This can be very important in cases where one party chooses to forgo a career for the sake of the marriage. A prenuptial agreement can award spousal support, or it can bar a party from receiving it. It’s very important to work with a Staten Island prenuptial attorney in order to understand the consequences of any proposed agreement.
In writing and with an attorney
For a prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must be in writing. Oral agreements are not enforceable. In addition, each person should have their own attorney. Each Staten Island prenuptial attorney should discuss the contents of the agreement with their client to make sure they understand the ramifications of what they’re signing.
The court isn’t going to enforce an agreement if they believe that either party signed it under coercion. The court also reviews the agreement to make sure that there’s no fraud involved. Finally, the court has the option to refuse to enforce an agreement if they think it’s extremely unfair.
Can a prenuptial agreement address child custody and spousal support?
Many couples ask our Staten Island prenuptial lawyers to make agreements that address what happens with custody and child support in the event of a dissolution of the marriage. New York law doesn’t allow couples to make enforceable agreements about custody or child support. The law requires New York courts to act in the child’s best interests. The court believes that it’s more important to act in the children’s best interests than it is to uphold an agreement the parents make in most cases before they ever have children.
In addition, children have a right to financial support from both of their parents. That’s not something that the parents can choose to bargain away on behalf of the child. The court is going to apply the child support guidelines to arrive at an amount of support that they think is appropriate for the children.
One thing to keep in mind is that the court is able to make decisions about the appropriate amount of support when the parties have very high incomes. The court has discretion to fashion an appropriate amount of support given the entire situation. While the parties can’t put a child support agreement in a Staten Island prenuptial agreement, the court has the authority to make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of the children.
Work with us
If you’re in the process of contemplating a prenuptial agreement, we can help. We can help you draft an agreement that complies with your wishes in a way that’s enforceable in the New York courts. We work with you to make sure that you understand the terms of your proposed agreement.
In addition, if you have questions about whether your prenuptial agreement is enforceable, we have experience interpreting and litigating these agreements in court. Our team of Staten Island prenuptial attorneys gets to know you and the entire situation, and then we help you make a plan to assert your rights in the best possible way in the New York courts. If you’re facing a legal matter in Staten Island or anywhere in New York, please call us to talk about your case.
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