Nobody on Long Island enters into a marriage anticipating that it will end in a divorce. Why would you? That said, we all know the statistics of how many marriages end in divorce, nationally and locally. In light of that reality, many Long Island couples believe that it’s not a bad idea to consider the benefits of having a pre-marital agreement in place as a precaution to preserve your assets should your marriage end in divorce.
Prenuptial Agreements Minimize Future Conflict
A properly prepared and executed Prenuptial Agreement has the potential to minimize the possibility of conflict upon the dissolution of a marriage, reducing the need for the litigation of financial issues between the parties. Parties considering a prenuptial agreement should pay particular attention to certain requirements that need to be met in order to properly execute a prenuptial agreement.
- Full Financial Disclosure
To ensure the validity of the contract, there are several legal requirements that must be fulfilled when entering into a pre-nuptial agreement. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be considered valid, there must first be complete financial disclosure between the parties entering into the contract. The purpose of complete financial disclosure is that it eliminates the possibility that one party may claim ignorance pertaining to the other party’s financial resources at the time the parties entered into the agreement. A party may claim ignorance if the other party fails to provide him or her with specific financial information, and knowledge of that information would have influenced his or her decision to enter into the per-marital agreement in the first place. Both parties should fill out a Statement of Net Worth to avoid this situation from occurring. Doing so will guarantee that each party is informed of the other party’s financial position when they enter into the prenuptial agreement.
- Separate Legal Representation
Another factor that should be taken into consideration to preserve the validity and integrity of a prenuptial agreement is that both parties should be represented by separate counsel when negotiating the terms of this type of contract. Retaining separate counsel will ensure that both parties are represented fairly during the drafting of the agreement. It will also eradicate the potential for any claims of attorney bias in the preparation of the terms of the agreement.
- Have Your Prenuptial Agreement Notarized to Avoid Disputes Later
In the execution of a prenuptial agreement, parties must also properly acknowledge their signatures on the document before a notary public. Failure to do so may result in the invalidity of the agreement. This was the case in Matisoff v. Dobi, where both parties acknowledged that they had signed a prenuptial agreement, but the New York Court of Appeals nevertheless held that the parties should have complied with the Domestic Relations Law, which requires a certificate of acknowledgment. Recognition of the authenticity of the signatures by the parties was not considered adequate for the purposes of satisfying the acknowledgment requirement under the statute in this case. However, in Bloomfield v. Bloomfield, the Court of Appeals decided that a premarital agreement was not required to have this type of acknowledgment. In any case, clients should be mindful of how their prenuptial agreements are executed in order to prevent the possibility of such litigation over the validity of an agreement from occurring.
- Take Time to Consider the Terms of Your Prenuptial Agreement
In addition to the above considerations, parties must also be afforded sufficient time to contemplate the terms of an agreement. The time in which a prenuptial agreement is signed in relation to a marriage is an important factor for courts in determining whether a party may have signed an agreement under duress. This aspect of entering into a prenuptial agreement relates to fairness and the notion that the agreement the parties are entering into is free from any “undue and unfair advantage.” Matter of Grieff, 92 N.Y. 2d. 341 (1998).
Prenuptial Agreements Protect Your Property
Prenuptial agreements serve to protect the separate property rights of parties entering into such an agreement. A prenuptial agreement is not only beneficial in that it can aid in the preservation of assets in the event of a divorce, but also in that it can help to reduce the potential for litigation over certain financial disputes that may arise between parties. While prenuptial agreements are a useful tool in this sense, it is essential that parties seeking a prenuptial agreement ensure the contract’s validity by taking the necessary steps to guarantee its proper execution. This can be done by engaging in full financial disclosure, obtaining separate representation for both parties, properly acknowledging the signatures on the agreement before a notary public, as well as allowing for sufficient time between the signing of the agreement and the nuptials.
Contact Us for More Information on Prenuptial Agreements in Nassau, Suffolk, Long Island, NY
Do you have questions about Prenuptial Agreements on Long Island? Contact us today by calling 631-923-1910 or filling out the short form on this page for a free, complimentary consultation where we can discuss the issues involved in acquiring a prenuptial agreement before your marriage.