How Does a Prenuptial Agreement Protect Me?

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As a leading family law practice representing clients throughout Long Island and New York City, the attorneys at Aiello & DiFalco LLP regularly prepare and review prenuptial agreements. We’ve prepared this guide to answer common questions about prenups. To learn more, call our office today to schedule a consultation.

What is a prenuptial agreement and how can it protect my interests?

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a contract entered into by a couple prior to marriage. The agreement specifies how assets, debts, and other financial matters will be handled during the marriage, in case of divorce, or in the event of one partner’s death. A properly structured agreement can protect your interests by clearly outlining financial responsibilities, protecting assets and inheritance, and preventing disputes in case of separation or divorce. A prenup can also limit or waive spousal maintenance (alimony).

How does a prenuptial agreement protect my financial assets and property?

In a prenup, you can designate which assets and property are to be considered separate (owned by one spouse) and which are to be considered marital property. In doing so, you ensure your separate property remains yours if the marriage does not go as planned.

Can a prenuptial agreement protect my business or professional practice?

Absolutely. A prenuptial agreement can stipulate that a business or professional practice is separate property, protecting it from being divided in a divorce. It can also outline any ownership rights your spouse may have in the growth or appreciation of the business during your marriage. Prenuptial agreements are very typical for small to mid-sized family-owned businesses. 

Does a prenuptial agreement protect me from my partner’s debts?

A prenup allows for the assignment of debts to the respective party that incurred them. This way, you can protect yourself from being held responsible for your spouse’s debts, such as significant medical, law school, or other student loan debt, if you divorce.

What role does a prenuptial agreement play in estate planning and protecting inheritance rights?

Prenuptial agreements can be used to protect the inheritance rights of each party who may receive inheritances or gifts during the marriage, as well as the rights of children from previous marriages, ensuring certain assets go to them. They can also ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes upon your death, and not determined by default state law.

In a divorce, how can a prenuptial agreement help define alimony or spousal support terms?

A prenuptial agreement can specify the amount, duration, and other conditions of spousal maintenance/alimony payments in a divorce. However, the court can disregard these terms if they are deemed unconscionable or if circumstances have drastically changed since the agreement was signed.

How can a prenuptial agreement protect my rights and interests if my partner dies unexpectedly?

A prenup can outline what happens to your spouse’s property upon their death. It can help ensure you receive an agreed-upon portion of the estate, which can be particularly important in cases where a spouse passes without a will. It can also ensure that a partner can continue to reside in a home even if the property was acquired before the marriage. Prenups can also provide for life insurance benefits to be secured to protect the other party.

Does a prenuptial agreement influence child custody and child support decisions?

Child custody and child support are typically not included in a prenuptial agreement, as courts determine these based on the child’s best interests.

How can a prenuptial agreement protect my property rights?

As mentioned above, the agreement can establish which assets are separate and which are marital, helping ensure a fair distribution of property in case of divorce. A prenup can also protect you from your spouse’s debts.

What can happen if I get married without a prenuptial agreement? 

Without a prenuptial agreement, your assets and debts will be divided according to state law in case of divorce. New York is an equitable distribution state for purposes of divorce, meaning that marital property will be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. This can potentially lead to undesirable outcomes, such as losing a portion of assets you consider separate or assuming responsibility for a spouse’s debt.

Can I modify or invalidate a prenuptial agreement after I’m married?

Yes. A prenuptial agreement can be modified or revoked after marriage, but any changes or revocations must be made in a written agreement which is signed and acknowledged before a notary. However, invalidating a prenup can be challenging and usually requires proving it was not signed voluntarily, or that one party wasn’t given full disclosure of the other’s assets and debts.

How Can An Attorney Help?

An experienced family law attorney can provide invaluable assistance in drafting or reviewing your prenuptial agreement. That’s where Aiello & DiFalco comes in. We have in-depth knowledge of the laws and requirements for prenuptial agreements and can help to ensure your prenup is legally enforceable. 

Every person’s situation is unique, and a one-size-fits-all prenuptial agreement won’t work for everyone. We can provide personalized advice based on your circumstances, represent you during the negotiation process, and advocate for your best interests. If your partner presents you with a prenuptial agreement, we can review it to ensure you fully understand its terms and implications.

Ultimately, a prenup can significantly impact your future. Trust Aiello & DIFalco to protect your rights and interests. Call our office today should you have any further questions or need assistance negotiating and preparing a prenuptial agreement.