Many people who are preparing to get married are uncomfortable with the idea of a prenuptial agreement. They may feel that signing such an agreement is counterproductive at a time when they are preparing to spend the rest of their lives with their soon-to-be spouse. But if executed well, a prenuptial agreement can strengthen a marriage.
When a married couple divorces, they must list all their assets and debts. They divide their separate property from the marital property, and then they divide the marital property according to standards of fairness under New York law.
Property division is a painstaking process and can create a lot of conflict. These arguments over money and property can spill over into other aspects of divorce, making it more difficult for the parties to resolve questions over child custody and other matters.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of a prenuptial agreement is that it allows the parties to avoid most of these fights. The agreement can decide in advance what will be separate property, and how marital property will be divided in the event of divorce.
But a prenuptial agreement can be helpful even if the couple never divorces because it forces the parties to be truthful with each other about their property, their debts and their expectations. Many people don’t explore these issues unless or until they go through divorce. By getting this out of the way in advance, the parties can then go into the marriage with open eyes.
New York law also allows for a post-nuptial, or post-marital agreement. This is essentially the same as a prenuptial agreement, but works for a couple who is already married.
For both types of agreements, the requirements are strict. People interested in creating an agreement before or during their marriage can speak to an experienced attorney about their options.