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Should You Sign a Prenuptial Agreement Before Your New York Wedding?

Reportedly Bruce and Kris Jenner did not sign a premarital agreement before they got married. Since they are apparently multimillionaires, asset division and support payments will be big issues in their upcoming divorce. They could have predetermined in a premarital contract how these issues would be resolved upon divorce.

Without a premarital agreement, they either have to negotiate a marital settlement agreement that resolves financial issues or a state court judge will have to make decisions about how to divide their property and income, and set future support payments as part of their divorce proceedings.

According to an October 2013 press release by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 63 percent of its surveyed members noted an uptick in prenuptial agreements in the past three years. The survey found that some of the issues most often being handled in prenups are:

  • "Protection of separate property" (that owned individually by a spouse and not part of the marital estate to be equitably divided in divorce) and of the increase in its value during marriage
  • Alimony, also called spousal maintenance or spousal support
  • Property division
  • "Inheritance rights"

The literature consistently cites certain reasons for the increased popularity of prenups, including:

  • A rising rate of second and subsequent marriages puts more people in the position of wanting to preserve assets owned before new marriages for their earlier-born children to receive outright or inherit, instead of going to subsequent spouses.
  • In the same vein, some want to be sure that their kids receive heirlooms from their families of origin rather than risk the objects ending up with newer spouses.
  • With divorce becoming more accepted, people who have been through marriage dissolution before want to avoid repeating previous experiences with adversarial fights over money and assets.
  • People are waiting longer to marry and want to preserve for themselves the assets they already own going into marriages.
  • Prenups are becoming more accepted and not seen as announcements marriages will fail.

New York prenups

According to the New York Magazine, New Yorkers divorce at a rate almost 8 times higher than the rest of the country. Logically, those entering marriages in the state should consider whether premarital agreements are in their best interests. New York prenups may govern inheritance, property, alimony, child custody and support, and some related matters.

New York prenups must be executed and signed according to particular legal requirements to be enforceable in future divorce, separation or similar marital proceedings. They must not be entered into under duress. For example, a future spouse should have time to review the agreement's provisions and consult with his or her own family lawyer before deciding whether to sign.

Seek seasoned legal advice about New York premarital agreements

Approaching a potential spouse about a prenup can be stressful, seeming like an unromantic and pessimistic way to begin a marriage, but it is often worth working through those feelings for the eventual betterment of the union and more economic and personal security.

If you are considering whether a prenuptial agreement would be a good idea for you, or if your future spouse has brought up the possibility, it is smart to consult with a knowledgeable New York family law attorney about your particular situation and get legal advice about whether a premarital contract makes sense for you, considering relevant factors like assets, age, immediate and extended family concerns and more.

Your prenuptial agreement lawyer can be sure the agreement is correctly drafted and acknowledged to protect its enforceability.