Prenuptial agreements can streamline divorce proceedings and are generally enforceable in New York unless a court declares the terms invalid. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can create a prenuptial agreement that is fair to both parties and approved by the courts.
At Aiello & DiFalco LLP, we have extensive experience drawing up valid prenuptial agreements and litigating high-stakes cases over their enforceability. Whether you need assistance creating or contesting a prenuptial agreement, we can help. Contact our office today to get started. We serve clients throughout Long Island and New York City.
What Can Invalidate a Prenuptial Agreement?
A court can declare a prenuptial agreement invalid if it finds something illicit in the agreement’s creation or filing, such as:
Fraudulent Disclosure of Assets
Both parties must disclose all their assets and debts when creating a prenuptial agreement or prenup. When one spouse conceals assets or fails to inform the other of debts they’ve accrued, the prenup was written without the pertinent information that might have changed the agreement entirely and the party who was defrauded relied on the misleading information in entering into the agreement. A court may declare the prenup invalid under these circumstances.
Duress or Coercion
Both parties must enter a prenup free of duress or coercion. If you can prove that you signed the prenup under duress, a court will invalidate the agreement. Although proving duress or coercion is challenging, examples of such allegations include:
- Being threatened with retaliation or refusal to marry if you don’t sign
- Not being allowed to review the agreement with a lawyer
- Being forced to sign the agreement right before the wedding ceremony
- Being pregnant
- Immigration status and possible deportation/removal
The best way to protect your interests if you signed a prenuptial agreement under duress or coercion is to consult an experienced divorce attorney.
A prenuptial agreement that contains unconscionable terms is invalid. The most obvious example of unconscionability is an agreement that leaves one spouse destitute after a divorce, especially in a long-term marriage, while the other spouse retains significant assets and income.
Signing Without Representation
Soon-to-be spouses should generally have separate attorneys when they enter a prenuptial agreement. If you do not have separate attorneys, the court will closely scrutinize the prenup for unfairness and may not enforce the agreement.
Improperly Filed Paperwork
A poorly drafted prenup or one that contains errors or ambiguities may be declared invalid or partially unenforceable. Having an experienced attorney draft your prenuptial agreement will increase the likelihood of the court validating the contract.
What Makes A Prenup Valid?
Factors that determine whether a prenuptial agreement is valid include:
Signed Written Acknowledged Agreement
A verbal prenup is not legally binding. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
The Acknowledgement, which requires a party to verbally acknowledge that they in fact signed the agreement in front of a Notary Public, is the absolute gold standard test for determining whether a document is legally binding as a prenuptial agreement.
Both parties must have the mental capacity to understand the terms of a prenuptial agreement. The court will throw out a prenup if either party signed the agreement under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescribed medication.
Signed Well-Before The Wedding
As mentioned above, a prenup signed just before the wedding ceremony may be deemed invalid. Both parties must have enough time to understand the implications of the agreement, so a prenup should be prepared and signed months in advance.
No Amendments After Signing
If a spouse or attorney makes any changes to the agreement after signing, the court may declare the prenup invalid. Even a simple word change can significantly affect a legal contract. If the parties agree to make changes, a new prenup should be drafted and must be acknowledged with the same formality required to enter into a prenup.
Contact An Experienced Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
If either party does not follow the correct legal procedures when creating a prenup, the agreement may be declared invalid. For this reason, working with an experienced attorney is essential. At Aiello & DiFalco, we know the ins and outs of prenuptial agreements involving simple real estate holdings and more complex financial assets.
Our experienced attorneys can help you understand the benefits of having a prenup, review or prepare the agreement, and ensure its validity. If you are considering a divorce and have concerns about an existing prenup, we can help to determine whether the prenup is void and guide you through the legal process. Contact our office today to arrange a consultation.