Staten Island Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements Lawyer
Getting married can feel like a fantasy come true. Unfortunately, some think signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage might shatter that dream. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. A prenuptial agreement is not an indication your marriage will fail. It also does not imply that you don’t trust your partner. A pre or postnuptial agreement can protect you and your spouse and lay the groundwork for the financial rights and responsibilities you both have during a marriage.
At the Law Office of Erin K. Colgan, we don’t want the prenuptial agreement process to feel cold and insensitive. We want to help protect you and your family, handling your case with the compassion and care it deserves. If you are considering marriage and want to review your legal and financial options, consider setting up a confidential meeting with our experienced Staten Island family law team. We can discuss your situation and help you decide what is right for you.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract signed before marriage. The document outlines how money and property can be divided in the end the marriage ends in divorce or death. The agreement is typically drafted and signed by both parties before marriage and becomes enforceable after marriage.
Prenuptial agreements are not solely for the ultra-wealthy. These contracts can be customized to meet the needs of individual couples, addressing potential concerns or questions about the division of property and assets. A Staten Island prenuptial agreement can potentially cover the following:
- Each spouse’s right to property
- Distribution of assets and debts
- Each spouse’s right to alimony
- Each spouse’s right to manage or control a family business
- Each spouse’s right to buy or sell property
A prenuptial agreement can also include other financial concerns or subjects. The only unenforceable aspect of a prenuptial agreement is any clause that requires a spouse to commit a crime or prevent a spouse from pursuing criminal charges.
New York is unique in that it does allow prenuptial agreements to address some issues involving child custody and support. Parents of children can include agreements in a prenuptial contract that addresses future child support payments and custody issues. However, a New York judge will always keep in mind the best interests of the child. A judge can enforce the stipulations in a prenuptial agreement, but only if the terms ultimately serve the child’s needs.
Enforcing a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract. The terms outlined can be upheld in court following the end of a marriage. However, some circumstances may void part or all of a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement must be drawn up in good faith, meaning it was entered into fairly and with full disclosure of all assets by both parties. In New York, potential spouses are under no obligation to disclose their complete financial history to one another. However, if a partner misrepresents their finances, that may be grounds for the court to overturn the agreement.
Other conditions that may jeopardize the validity of a prenuptial agreement include:
- If a spouse signs the document under duress
- If a spouse was not mentally competent at the time the document was signed
- If a spouse was not 18 years of age at the time the document was signed
- If the agreement is severely lopsided or unfair
Additionally, a prenuptial agreement may not be valid if the couple signs the document after they marry.
Drafting a Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial agreement is like a prenuptial agreement, except that this document is signed after a couple is legally married. A postnuptial contract also seeks to outline how property and other assets can be divided in the event of divorce or death. Most postnuptial contracts address:
- Division of assets and property
- Definition of separate and marital property
- Outlining support for children of a prior marriage or relationship
- Establishing pre-marriage debt
- Possible child support and custody arrangements
Enforcement of a postnuptial agreement is the same as a premarital agreement. The contract is not valid if a partner signed it under duress. Full and fair disclosure of assets must also be made without misrepresentation.
Why Consider a Pre or Postnuptial Agreement?
There are numerous reasons you may want to consider drafting a pre or postnuptial agreement. This legally binding contract can help protect you and your family if your marriage breaks down or your spouse passes away. With a pre or post-nuptial agreement, you can dictate the division of your assets and property, not the New York court system.
In New York, when a marriage ends in divorce, all marital property is divided equitably. Equitable division of property means the court will review the assets and debt acquired during the marriage and divide the property fairly between spouses. Equitable, however, does not necessarily mean equal. If you have considerable wealth, a family business, or mementos you want to keep in your family, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement.
A well-crafted agreement can protect you, your family, and the things vital to you following divorce or death. It is not an indication you do not trust your partner or want to see your marriage fail. It is simply an added layer of protection for both of you. It gives you and your spouse the power to decide how to divide your assets, not the Staten Island court system.
Contact an Experienced Staten Island Family Law Attorney for Help
Are you wondering whether a pre or postnuptial agreement is the right option for you? Discuss your concerns with a skilled family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Erin K. Colgan, our legal team will review your situation and help you sort through your legal options with discretion. We want to protect you and your family and will work with you to find a solution that addresses your concerns and meets your and your partner’s needs.
For a confidential legal consultation, contact our Staten Island office today.