It is a common myth that prenuptial agreements are only for those who have a lot of money. However, the truth is that a prenuptial agreement can be worthwhile for anyone who has property that they would like to protect in the event of a divorce. It may also be ideal for those who want to resolve issues related to spousal support in a rational manner.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Be Broad or Narrow
A prenuptial agreement can be as broad or as narrow as a person wants them to be. For instance, they can simply state that a person is entitled to alimony after 10 years with the exact amount to be determined when the divorce becomes official. It may also be written that a person is entitled to $5,000 a month in alimony after five years of marriage with that amount going up to $10,000 a month after 10 years.
In addition to alimony, a prenuptial agreement could set forth conditions of how often a couple must sleep in the same bed together or have other specific terms. As a general rule, anything that conforms to state law and is considered to be reasonable can be put into such a document.
What Makes a Prenuptial Agreement Valid?
Prenuptial agreements can be considered valid if they are agreed to without any use of force or other forms of coercion. Examples of undue influence include forcing someone to sign the document without time to review it or threatening to harm a person who refused to sign it or harm that person’s family if the document is not signed.
When Should a Prenup Be Created?
Ideally, the agreement will be created as far in advance as possible. Generally, they should be created no sooner than six months before the planned wedding date. This gives each person time to review the document with the help of an attorney. It also provides an opportunity to negotiate in good faith if either side does not like one or more terms of the agreement.
Are Prenups From Other States Valid in New York?
In many cases, a prenuptial agreement that was created and deemed valid in another state will be recognized in New York. However, it may be a good idea to have it looked at by an attorney in New York state to be safe. If any of the terms are not legal under state law, they should be renegotiated as soon as possible. Otherwise, they will be taken out of the document entirely.
Is It Possible to Amend a Prenup Before a Divorce?
It is generally possible to amend the terms of a prenuptial agreement even if a couple doesn’t plan on getting divorced. This may be beneficial to those who own a business that has appreciated in value or if an individual buys an expensive item for use in a marital home. Amending the terms may clarify who owns this new item or how it should be dealt with in the event a marriage ends.
Is It Possible to Challenge a Prenuptial Agreement Prior to Divorce?
It is typically permissible to challenge the terms of any agreement at any time. This may be something to consider if it turns out that someone agreed to a prenuptial agreement based on flawed information. For example, a person may have discovered assets that were previously hidden or were not properly declared when the agreement was first reached. If a person agreed to a prenuptial agreement based on the unethical or incorrect advice of an attorney, that may also provide grounds for challenging an agreement.
What Can Prenuptial Agreements Not Cover?
Prenuptial agreements generally cannot contain language regarding child support or child custody. State law already has a formula in place that decides how much a parent will pay. Child custody matters may be resolved based on a child’s needs as opposed to what the parents want. However, it may be possible to create a parenting plan that goes along with a prenuptial agreement. A judge will still need to approve that plan before it is allowed to go into effect.
A prenuptial agreement can be an effective asset and wealth protection tool. They can ensure that a divorce is settled in a timely fashion with as few surprises as possible. As long as they are created properly, it can allow a couple to focus more on what they stand to gain together than what they could stand to lose if the relationship ends.
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