A prenuptial (or premarital) agreement is a legally binding contract that a couple will establish prior to marrying and comes into effect once they tie the knot. Prenuptial agreements can specify how present and future financial assets, investments, property and money will be divided, should the pair divorce. Under certain circumstances, the specifications of the prenuptial agreement may be adjusted and, in some instances, the entire prenuptial agreement can be deemed invalid.
Under New York State’s premarital agreement law, there are several conditions under which a party may contend that the contract is void. Prenuptial agreements must be made voluntarily and without coercion. The agreement must be created in writing (oral prenups are not valid) and both parties must have signed the contract prior to entering their marriage. Both parties must receive fair and reasonable disclosure of the terms of the agreement, including the property or financial responsibilities of the other spouse. If a spouse were to undervalue his or her assets or fail to fully disclose them, there may be grounds to have the agreement thrown out on the basis of fraud.
If a provision of a prenuptial agreement modifies or eliminates spousal support and the stipulation causes one party to be eligible for resources provided by a public assistance program at the time of separation or divorce, a court may require the other party to pay them support to avoid the need for public assistance. If the agreement is too one-sided, with one party receiving the majority of the assets and the other receiving hardly anything, the prenup could be deemed unconscionable and, therefore, invalid.
In most cases, the burden of proof falls to the party that is seeking the declaration that the prenuptial agreement is invalid. Seeking the guidance of an experienced matrimonial law attorney may be crucial to peacefully resolving potentially contentious issues. The New York matrimonial law attorneys at Blodnick Fazio & Associates, P.C. are experienced in handling all aspects of matrimonial law, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, modifications of agreements, divorce, maintenance (alimony), division of assets and separation agreements.