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How can prenuptial agreements affect a divorce in New York?

When there are concerns about a business, significant assets or one prospective spouse being substantially wealthier than the other, it is not unusual for couples in New York to enter into prenuptial agreements before they get married. If the marriage comes to an end, these agreements are prone to dispute. Either side can complain about the contents of a prenuptial agreement and even call the entire document into question. For people who have a prenuptial agreement and are getting a divorce, there are important legal facts that should be understood.

A prenuptial agreement can list what will be separate property and marital property and it can state what the spousal maintenance will be. To be valid, the agreement must: be considered fair; have been signed through free will; have had full financial disclosure; have been agreed to after consulting with independent legal counsel; and there must have been a third person to serve as a witness.

For people who do not believe the prenuptial agreement is fair, there are a limited number of reasons why it can be challenged. If it was signed via coercion or duress and the person was pressured into agreeing to sign it, the agreement can be called into question. Spouses who committed fraud to get the other person to sign could face the prospect of the document being null and void. Both parties should have had separate legal counsel - if they did not, it could be the foundation to disregard the document. If the agreement is unfair and might lead to financial hardship for one of the spouses, it could be unenforceable.

Any divorce has the propensity to be difficult and contentious, but when there was a prenuptial agreement and the couple is unable to agree as to its validity, it will inevitably make matters worse. Should there be a divorce in which a prenuptial agreement is problematic, getting the right information about your legal rights in the divorce can help.

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