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Are prenuptial agreements enforceable in New York?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2023 | Family Law |

The short answer is yes, but it depends on what is included in the agreement.

Prenuptial agreements serve an important purpose. Also referred to as a “prenup,” it is a legal document that specifies the division of separate property and marital property if the couple divorces or if one of the spouses passes away.

Are prenups only for the wealthy?

Prenuptial agreements are not only for the wealthy; everyone getting married should consider having one. It is not a pleasant topic for couples, especially right before the wedding, but it is a wise decision because no one knows what the future brings. A prenup protects both parties.

What a prenup can and cannot cover

For a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable in court, it must follow the law. In this case, a prenuptial agreement can cover separate and marital property, which draws the line between what belongs to which spouse and defines the distribution of assets if one party possessed an asset before the marriage or if the couple accumulates assets during the marriage.

Prenuptial agreements can also address spousal support, also known as alimony, in the event of divorce. This applies especially when one of the parties is the only breadwinner of the family or if both parties have a significant amount of wealth and they want to secure that wealth by specifying whether one spouse will pay spousal support, who will pay, and how much they will pay in the event of divorce.

Prenups cannot address either child support or child custody. New York law is specific in stating that a prenuptial agreement cannot contract away the rights of children, whether existing or future children. It also cannot contract away child support because that is a parental obligation that a parent has toward his or her child mandated by law.

Requirements for validity

Under the laws of New York, the parties must sign a prenuptial agreement before the marriage, it must be written and signed by both parties, and a notary public must witness it. Prenups that are oral or written without signatures are not enforceable.

Getting married is an exciting time for couples and thinking about a prenup is not something they want to think about. Some couples will have attorneys work things out between them to not create any issues between themselves, which can work well.