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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 03:04 pm
Tompkins Prenup Lawyers
Prenuptial agreements, also known as prenups, are legal contracts entered into before marriage that specify how assets will be divided if the marriage ends in divorce. Prenups can provide valuable protection for business interests, separate property, and inheritance for couples in Tompkins County, New York. This article provides an overview of how prenuptial agreements work in New York, key requirements, and tips for finding an experienced prenup attorney in Tompkins County.
What Can Be Included in a Prenup
Some assets and issues that can be addressed in a Tompkins County prenup include:
- Separate property – Assets owned before marriage.
- Inheritances and gifts received during marriage.
- Business interests and professional practices.
- Investments and stock options.
- Real estate and intellectual property.
- Debts and liabilities.
- Spousal support/alimony if divorce occurs.
- How taxes will be filed.
- Life insurance and estate planning.
New York allows broad freedom to determine property rights through prenups. However, some limits apply.
What Prenups Cannot Do in New York
While prenups are valid and enforceable in New York, there are some legal limitations:
- Child support cannot be waived – Courts ensure adequate support.
- Child custody and visitation cannot be predetermined.
- Alimony terms deemed unfair at time of divorce may not stand.
- Courts retain ability to equitably divide assets in certain cases.
Prenups that are unreasonably one-sided or create hardship may be partially invalidated.
Requirements for Enforceable Prenups in New York
For a prenup to be binding under New York law, it must meet the following key requirements:
- Made voluntarily without coercion, duress or undue influence.
- Both parties provided full financial disclosure.
- Each party had opportunity to consult independent counsel.
- Agreement is in writing, signed by both spouses.
- Terms do not violate public policy.
- Agreement was executed at least 10 days prior to marriage.
Meeting these requirements helps ensure a prenup will be enforced if challenged later.
Top Reasons to Get a Prenup in Tompkins County
Common motivations for a prenuptial agreement in Tompkins County include:
- Protecting business assets and professional practices.
- Preserving family real estate holdings and farms.
- Providing for children from a prior relationship.
- Avoiding disputes over separate inheritances and gifts.
- Clarifying financial rights and obligations.
- Protecting assets in case of death.
- Defining separate and marital property.
Prenups allow couples to avoid uncertainty and establish clear financial expectations.
Finding an Experienced Tompkins County Prenup Attorney
- Extensive experience drafting enforceable prenups.
- Strong negotiating skills.
- Creative problem-solving ability.
- In-depth knowledge of NY prenup law.
- Commitment to fairness and reasonableness.
- Willingness to take time explaining options.
Reputable prenup attorneys in Tompkins County include:
- The Law Office of R. Michael Fisher – Highly experienced Ithaca prenup lawyer.
- Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP – Longstanding Ithaca firm respected for family law expertise.
- Trevor H. Coleman, Esq. – Ithaca attorney focused on prenups and divorce.
Schedule initial meetings with a few attorneys before selecting one to handle your prenup.
Prenup Process and Timing in Tompkins County
The typical prenup process involves:
- Initial consultation with attorneys to explain goals.
- Financial disclosures exchanged (statements, tax returns).
- Attorneys draft proposed terms and negotiate.
- Final prenup document prepared.
- Time provided to review terms and consult attorneys.
- Agreement signed at least 10 days before wedding.
The process often takes 2-3 months. Trying to rush a prenup can jeopardize enforceability.
Cost of a Prenuptial Agreement
Average costs for a prenup in Tompkins County range from $2,000 to $10,000 per party. Factors impacting the cost include:
- Complexity of assets involved.
- Amount of negotiation required.
- Use of additional professionals like appraisers.
- Experience level of the attorneys.
- Whether modifications are needed.
Costs may be minimized by:
- Being organized and communicating clearly.
- Providing complete financial disclosure.
- Compromising when reasonable.
- Minimizing revisions to drafts.
Investing in a quality prenup upfront can save substantially in case of later divorce.
Marriage With No Prenup – What Happens in Divorce
If no prenup exists, here is what happens in a Tompkins County divorce:
- All assets and debts acquired during marriage are marital property.
- Marital property is equitably divided by the court.
- Separate property owned before marriage remains separate.
- Increase in value of separate property during marriage may be divided.
- Alimony, child support determined by statutory guidelines.
- Custody decided based on the child’s best interests.
The court makes these determinations based on principles of fairness and the facts of the case. A prenup provides more control upfront over the outcome.
Modifying a Prenup
Prenups can be modified or set aside after signing under limited circumstances, such as:
- Both parties agree to amend the agreement.
- Fraud, duress or coercion is proven.
- There was inadequate financial disclosure.
- Significant unforeseen change in circumstances.
Changes are not easy to obtain. The spouse seeking modification has the burden of proving the prenup is unreasonable or defective. Most courts are reluctant to overturn premarital agreements.
Enforcing a Prenup
To enforce a prenup in a Tompkins County divorce, the spouse seeking to uphold it must file a copy with the court and summons. The prenup is presumed valid unless proven otherwise. Defenses for challenging a prenup include:
- Involuntary execution.
- Lack of financial disclosure.
- Fraud or misrepresentation.
- Coercion or duress.
- Substantially changed circumstances.
If parts are deemed unenforceable, the remainder of the prenup typically remains binding. Proper drafting boosts enforceability.
Alternatives to Prenups
If a prenup has downsides for your situation, alternatives to consider include:
- Postnuptial agreement – Similar to prenup but signed after marriage.
- Transmutation agreement – Converts separate property into marital.
- Community property agreement – Makes most property acquired during marriage communal.
- Joint ownership – Owning key assets jointly with rights of survivorship.
These options have pros and cons as well. A lawyer can advise on the best fit.
Ask a Lawyer
Here are answers to some common questions about prenups in Tompkins County:
Can a prenup waive alimony rights in New York?
Yes, but the waiver may not be enforceable if it would cause one spouse to require public assistance or become a ward of the state. Courts retain discretion based on circumstances at time of divorce.
Is a prenup signed under duress enforceable in New York?
No, consent cannot be obtained under duress for a prenup to be valid. Duress makes a contract voidable. Signs could include threats, abuse, or coercion used to compel signing.
Can child custody be determined in a prenuptial agreement?
No, unlike property division, New York does not allow child custody to be predetermined in a prenup. Custody is decided later based on the child’s best interests.
Can a prenup waive child support in New York?
No, the right to child support belongs to the minor child and cannot be bargained away by parents. The court sets appropriate support.
Is a sunset provision advisable in a prenup?
Potentially. A sunset clause states the prenup expires after a certain period of marriage, such as 5 or 10 years. This allows renegotiation later. Sunset clauses make a prenup less ironclad but can add flexibility.
- Prenups let couples define financial rights and responsibilities in advance.
- However, prenups have limits and must meet legal requirements.
- Experienced counsel is strongly advised for both parties.
- A fair prenup aligned with NY law can provide valuable protection.
Consulting a knowledgeable Tompkins County prenup attorney allows crafting an enforceable agreement suited to your unique situation and goals.