Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract, signed by two persons are planning to marry, which outlines how the parties wish to divide assets and income in the event of divorce. It is a powerful document for so many reasons – and one which often gets a bad rap.

However, in recent years, prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more common. And, for good reason, as a prenuptial agreement is signed long before any marital tensions may arise. It is signed at a time when future spouses want to be fair and reasonable with each other. So, often, prenuptial agreements result in an end to a marriage that is simple, clean, and with dramatically less animosity and fighting. Now, who doesn’t like that idea?

Prenuptial Agreements: What is Included?

A New York prenuptial agreement can address any of the following topics: spousal maintenance, property/debt division, and counsel fees upon divorce. You do not have to address all of these topics – you have tremendous flexibility to pick and choose what topics to address, and how in depth you want to get.

For example, you can choose to address only spousal maintenance and specifically state that issues of property/debt division and counsel fees will be addressed based upon the laws existing at the time of divorce.

Prenuptial Agreements: What is Excluded?

Public policy in New York prohibits the following topics from being addressed in a prenuptial agreement: child custody and child support. Therefore, these topics are always left to be decided based upon the laws and circumstances in existence at the time of divorce.

Common Terms & Styles of Agreement

Prenuptial agreements are one of the most flexible contracts available to spouses. Over the years, though, there has been a rise in certain terms or styles of prenuptial agreements. These are highlighted below. Please remember, a prenuptial agreement is a binding contract so, before signing one, you should at least have the document reviewed by an attorney.

  • Changing definition of marital property: in New York, marital property is any property (and debt) acquired from date of marriage until date of a signed settlement agreement, date of an action for divorce, or another agreed upon date. Therefore, marital property (in general) is based upon when you acquired it – without regard to how an asset it titled (ie: joint names or individual names).  A popular option in prenuptial agreements is changing this rule so that marital property (some or all) is only created if spouses place the asset in joint names or do something else to purposefully grant the other spouse right to the asset.
  • Sunset provision: some couples want all or some terms of their agreement, to end upon the occurrence of certain events or a certain date. In this instance, a sunset provision can be used. This term states that the clause (or whole agreement) ends or *sunsets” when indicated.

Negotiating a Prenuptial Agreement

There are a variety of ways a couple can negotiate their agreement. Many will discuss terms between themselves and then visit individual attorneys have the document drafted. Another option is to attend mediation to discuss the terms and then have the mediator draft the agreement. Regardless of how you negotiate the agreement, the key is remembering that this is a legally binding contract; so it is incredibly important to have attorney input during the process.
If you have more questions about prenuptial agreements in New York, and how it might affect you, call the offices of Lauren L. Hunt at (518) 282-7300, or, make an appointment online, and together, we can ensure a bright new future you and your loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions