Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements serve the very specific purpose of protecting spouses in the event problems arise during the course of their marriage. If a couple enters into an agreement before they get married, the contractual arrangement is called a prenuptial agreement, or prenup. If they enter into the agreement after they are already married, the contract is called a postnuptial agreement, or postnup.
Couples who are contemplating having either a pre- or postnuptial agreement should always seek legal counsel and guidance regarding what they can, and cannot, include in their agreement. The reason for this is that different states have different requirements in terms of what is allowed to be included, and New York is no exception. The Law Office of Lance H. Meyer knows the law and is fully equipped to handle all your pre- and post-nuptial agreement needs.
Marriage is a life-changing event. No matter how much spouses love each other and want to believe they will never have any problems, life often gets in the way and circumstances arise that can change their feelings and situation. Pre- and postnuptial agreements are an effective way to plan for future events that may potentially come to pass. In general, these agreements are tailored to protect a spouse’s assets or the future of the couple’s children, for example, and set guidelines for how certain situations will be handled in the event the couple divorces or one or both spouses die.
In New York, courts recognize the terms of a valid prenuptial agreement over how state law would otherwise divide property. A valid agreement is one that: 1) protects both spouses and was entered into with the understanding that both spouses fully disclosed all their assets and 2) was formally executed the same way a property deed would be executed and recorded.
What Issues Can Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?
Pre- and post-nuptial agreements often address similar issues, including:
- Separate property, which is defined as property and assets each spouse owned and brought into the marriage versus property they attained as a couple (marital property)
- The amount of maintenance (spousal support or alimony) that will be paid either during the marriage or in the event of divorce
- Designation of what is to be considered marital property
- Responsibility for pre-marriage debt
Each spouse should have their own attorney when it comes to writing or reviewing a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. That is the only way to ensure both spouses are properly and fairly represented and prevents one spouse from coercing the other to sign an agreement the full implications of which he or she may not understand.
What Does a Pre- or Postnuptial Agreement Not Cover?
Judges can declare a pre- or post-nuptial agreement invalid for a number of reasons, including if the agreement:
- Sets or restricts child support or child custody as it pertains to children the couple had together
- Is heavily one-sided or unfair to the other spouse while favoring /the other
- Does not contain the spouses’ full disclosures about all their assets, property, income, and debt
- Contains unclear, ambiguous terms
- Requires a spouse to commit fraud or an illegal act
- Was not properly signed and executed
- Was arranged for by just one attorney – each party to the agreement should have their own lawyer to review the agreement and advise as to the fairness of it
The Law Office of Lance H. Meyer is experienced in working through the intricacies involved in both writing and reviewing pre- and post-nuptial agreements. He knows what is required to ensure both sides are properly represented. The firm is available to work with either the spouse who wishes to draft an agreement or the spouse who needs help in understanding the terms of an agreement and if they are fair.
We offer a complimentary initial consultation during which we get to know your situation and learn about what you need or may potentially need in the future. You will find our fees to be reasonable, and if you are a military veteran, police officer, fire fighter, court officer, New York State court employee, or New York State teacher, you will receive a discount.
Attorney Lance H. Meyer is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Nassau County Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.