Protecting assets from being divided in divorce is often an important goal for those entering into marriage with significant assets, and for those who are contemplating divorce where significant assets are likely to be in dispute. Even those with modest wealth can benefit from entering into an agreement prior to marriage or divorce, since marital agreements are quite versatile in terms of the issues they can address.
Couples can use prenuptial agreements not only to define what property will be classified as separate property and what property defined as marital property. They can also address things like: responsibility for pre-marital debts; maintenance during the marriage and in the event of divorce; support for children from a previous marriage; and inheritance of assets.
With both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, it is critical for couples to work with separate attorneys to ensure the agreement not only represents their interests, but also that it is properly executed. The formalities for executing a marital agreement are the same as those required to record a property deed. There must also be full and fair disclosure of assets between the couple. In addition, care needs to be taken that a marital agreement is not challenged later on the basis of fraud, coercion/duress, or unconscionability.
Challenges to marital agreements are not uncommon in contested divorce cases, so anything that can be done to minimize the possibility of these disputes can save money and stress later on. A skilled attorney is able not only work to ensure a prenuptial agreement is well-negotiated and properly executed, but also that it these agreements are enforced in court, or set aside when necessary.
New York City Bar Association, Prenuptial Agreements, Charlotte Lee, Feb. 2015.
New York City Bar Association, Postnuptial Agreements, Charlotte Lee, Feb. 2015.