Pre-nuptial agreements may be helpful to resolve matters if a couple ever decides to divorce. But a prenup may not be modified or amended after marriage. Couples, however, can prepare new post-nuptial agreements that can deal with issues such as property division if their marriage ends.
Postnuptial agreements may address circumstances that have changed since marriage. These include receiving an inheritance, using separate property to purchase a joint asset or giving up work or school to stay at home to raise the couple’s children.
There are higher standards governing the preparation of a post-nuptial agreement because married spouses have more duties of trust to each other than engaged couples. Also, engaged couples can choose not to get married if they are unsatisfied with their pre-nuptial agreement or cannot reach a deal. After marriage, the deal must be fair because couples no longer have this option.
Courts are not bound by any agreements about child support or child custody in the post-nuptial. Their decisions are based upon the best interests of the child.
However, couples can revise their earlier agreements to address situations such as the parent missing work or school to raise their children. They can agree to higher spousal support or dividing property that was previously designated as separate spousal property.
Like a prenup, a post-nuptial agreement also requires full financial disclosures and the exchange of this information between the spouses. Each spouse should also have their own lawyer represent them or court may be more inclined to accept allegations that the post-nuptial agreement was entered into under duress or through unequal bargaining and invalidate the agreement.
An attorney can help negotiate and prepare or at least review these agreements. Legal representation can help assure that postnuptial or prenuptial agreements are valid under New York law.