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Marital Agreements

Staten Island Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements Lawyer

Many wonder whether they need a prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a “prenup,” but often dismiss this type of marriage contract as something only the wealthy need or because they believe it to be unromantic and fear it will put a damper on their relationship.

Simply put, a prenup is a marital contract between two people planning to marry, that specifies what would happen to financial assets and liabilities if they divorce or if the marriage is dissolved. Prenups are just one type of marital contract, completed before the wedding. Other types of marital contracts include cohabitation agreements, separation agreements and postnuptial agreements.

Do You Need A Pre or Postnuptial Agreement?

At Erin K. Colgan Law, we recognize that every relationship is unique and each party to a marriage has unique circumstances to accommodate. Accordingly, we help our clients to understand their options and weigh the pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement.

Benefits of a prenuptial agreement extend to both parties before they marry, providing each with an opportunity to communicate openly and honestly about how money and finances will be handled by each partner during the marriage, and, how division of assets and debts would be handled, as well as spousal support, and perhaps child custody, in the event of divorce.

Prenups and other marital agreements are not just for the wealthy. Rather than an instrument to cast doubt in the mind of one or both partners, a prenuptial agreement addresses the most cited subject of conflict within a relationship – finances – before the marriage is consummated. A prenup provides each partner with an opportunity to understand how a spouse anticipates and expects money to be handled during the marriage. They help to anticipate and guide the handling of unforeseen circumstances that may develop during the marriage.

Postnuptial agreements address the same concerns, contain similar provisions and like prenuptial agreements, are governed by state law. However, postnuptial agreements are agreed to after the legal marriage, whereas prenuptial agreements are entered into before the marriage. Couples may enter into a postnuptial agreement when their finances substantively change during the marriage as a means to better handle them in the event of a divorce.

Understanding Postnuptial Agreements

To be legally enforceable, postnuptial agreements must be entered into voluntarily, must be in writing, contain full and fair disclosure (e.g., financial assets), and be validly executed according to State law. In New York, postnuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties to be recognized as valid by the court. A valid postnuptial agreement in New York should determine the control of assets and property if it in fact differs from state law division of property. A postnuptial agreement may guide division of assets and liabilities, account for custody and child support agreement, and may provide a legal mechanism for the couple to waive spousal rights when one party dies, for instance to waive rights to an inheritance. A benefit to a postnuptial agreement is to define what is marital property, establish support for children of a prior marriage, define premarital debt as belonging to one, not both parties, and related needs that arise during marriage.

Simply put, the main difference between pre and post nuptial agreements is that a prenup is completed before marriage, and a postnup is completed after the legal marriage. The main advantage to a prenup is the ability to understand the financial situation and likely roles of each spouse during marriage, and if unacceptable to one of the parties, to not get married. Like QDROs, the adage “better earlier than later” applies. If you are not familiar with a QDRO, click here to learn more.

If you have questions about the prenuptial or postnuptial process, call us at 718-981-5505 to schedule a consultation with Erin K. Colgan, Esq. Staten Island’s leading divorce attorney and certified mediator.

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