Taking a Step to Protect a Future
If you and your future spouse decide that it might be best to protect your assets in the event things don’t turn out the way you hope, it might be a good idea to create a prenuptial agreement. Having one of these documents in place can do a great deal to protect your assets in case of divorce.
While creating a document like this might sound complicated, knowing what you should include, understanding the process, and working with a family law attorney can help you and your future spouse establish a prenuptial agreement that will stand in court. Here are some things to keep in mind as you create your agreement.
Know the Requirements
In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid in New York, it must meet several requirements. First, a prenuptial agreement requires that each spouse is fully honest about assets and debt; a complete disclosure of each party’s financial assets is necessary to ensure a prenuptial agreement meets state requirements.
Second, a prenuptial agreement must be put in writing prior to the marriage. A verbal agreement does not hold up as a prenuptial agreement. In addition, you and your future spouse must sign the agreement before a notary public.
Finally, you and your spouse must be at least 18 years of age when you sign your prenuptial agreement. This agreement must not take place under false pretense, meaning no one should be coerced or manipulated into signing the agreement. Both parties should be mentally capable of agreeing to the terms laid out and signing the agreement.
Know What You Should Put In
One of the most challenging parts of putting together a prenuptial agreement is determining what parts of the agreement you should include in yours. There are several terms that you should consider including in your prenuptial agreement. These items include the following:
Perhaps the term that is most associated with prenuptial agreements, you and your future spouse should be sure to include notes about property rights of each party and how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce. Many couples typically include matters such as money, property, real estate, and other similar assets, but this can also expand to include items such as debts and the rights to sell or distribute property.
Note that you and your future spouse can determine who will retain both separate and community property in New York.
A prenuptial agreement can include terms on alimony, specifically who will be responsible for paying alimony, how much alimony will be paid, and how long that person will be paying.
Support for Children of a Previous Marriage
In many couples that choose to create a prenuptial agreement, one person brings minor children from a previous marriage into the family. If the other parent does not adopt them, then those children will need to have support. A prenuptial agreement can establish which parent will be paying support for those children and how much is paid each month.
Benefits Upon Death
When a person dies, it’s likely that they may have a life insurance policy that will be paid to a designated beneficiary to help cover the financial burden left behind. It’s common for couples to include these terms in a prenuptial agreement.
Know the Terms to Avoid Including
While a prenuptial agreement protects a number of a person’s assets, there are certain items that they legally cannot cover. The primary item that people think can be included but cannot be is anything related to child custody or child support of any future children. It is impossible to know how much support a child will need or what living situation will serve a child’s best interests if the child is not yet alive. This issue must be decided at the time of divorce by the court.
In addition, a prenuptial agreement cannot include anything that goes against state law or anything that would be deemed unfair by the court. If any of these terms are included in an agreement, know that they will be struck down and rendered invalid.
Working with an Attorney is Essential
Prenuptial agreements should not be crafted on your own, as these documents can be incredibly complex and difficult to put together in a way required by law. For this reason, you and your future spouse should work with a family law attorney who can help you craft a document that meets your specific needs as well as New York requirements.
At Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys, our team of attorneys has helped numerous couples create prenuptial agreements that serve their needs and offer protection in the event of a divorce. We are ready to help do the same for you. To schedule a consultation or ask prenuptial agreement questions of our Queens attorneys, call us at (718) 215-0121 or visit us online.