Pre & Postnuptial Agreements
Even the best marriages aren’t without their ups and downs. No matter how much you love and trust your spouse, there will still be times when you’ll have major disagreements. One way to mitigate these disputes is by signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, but many people have outdated views on these. Many people think these documents signal some kind of mistrust or doubt on the part of their spouse. In reality, the benefits of a prenuptial agreement far outweigh the negative connotations and more and more couples are realizing this truth.
If you’re in White Plains, New York, or the surrounding area of the Bronx, New Rochelle, Lower Westchester County, call us at Rutkin & Wolf PLLC to speak with a family law attorney about your options.
Prenuptial Agreements in New York
A prenuptial agreement (also called a marital agreement) is a legal document signed by both partners before a marriage takes place. Although most people have heard of these, they may be left with the question, “What should a prenuptial agreement cover?” The truth is, prenups can cover most financial concerns if the marriage ends in divorce such as who owns what property, what assets belong to each spouse, what stake each partner will have in a family or private business, the right or expectation of alimony, or a spouse’s right to death benefits or insurance payouts. Importantly, in most cases, a prenup cannot include anything about child custody or child support. If it does include some provisions for future child support, it will be up to the discretion of a judge as to the final agreement and this decision will always be made with the best interests of the child in mind.
With the help of an attorney, prenups can be modified and revised at any time as long as both partners agree to the changes. The updated prenup is legally signed and filed with the court.
Who Should Get One?
One of the most common questions we get is, “Who should sign a prenuptial agreement?” While there isn’t one set answer to this, when couples learn about the potential advantages of signing one, they become more open to the idea. There are several situations in which people can benefit from signing a prenup. One of the most common places we see this is with second marriages in which one or both partners have children from a previous relationship. In these cases, a parent may wish to set aside some assets that won’t be considered marital property, and will instead only go to their children instead of being automatically passed to the spouse. This can also help relieve the tax burden on your beneficiaries when they do inherit assets.
In other cases, someone may want to sign a prenup if they’re a partner in a private or family business and wish to keep their personal and business finances separate. If there is no prenup in place, a judge may include the business assets as a part of the marital assets and award each spouse half of the business ownership. With a prenup in place, however, you can stipulate what will happen with certain assets ahead of time to avoid these situations.
Why Marital Agreements are Important
Prenups can draw clear boundaries between the two spouses, which can make your life easier in the long run. Because they require each spouse to fully disclose all financial holdings, it can also serve as an opening for healthy and honest conversations around money and wealth that may not have happened if a prenup wasn’t considered. Even though no one enters a marriage thinking that it will end in divorce, the truth is that many marriages will eventually break down; implementing a prenup now is one of the best ways to protect your assets and ensure you and your spouse are on the same page about finances.
Ensuring Pre & Postnuptial Agreements Are Enforceable
One of the most important takeaways if you’re considering a prenup is ensuring it’s enforceable. Any agreement like this that’s not legally binding will be essentially worthless in the end if it’s not written up correctly by an experienced attorney. For example, if there’s confusing language in the prenup that could be misinterpreted, your spouse could contest this in court and potentially invalidate the entire agreement. Or, if it’s discovered that one or both spouses withheld vital information about their finances from the other, the agreement can become void. Lastly, if one spouse is coerced or threatened in any way to sign a prenup that they don’t actually agree to, a judge will not enforce it and will instead use their own investigation and discretion to allocate assets in a divorce.
White Plains, New York
If you’d like to know more about what a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement can do for your marriage, reach out to our team at Rutkin & Wolf PLLC in White Plains, New York, to schedule a consultation. We’re ready to help you move forward.