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Timing and updates important in New York prenuptial agreements

Let's take a look at the time line of a prenuptial agreement: as in, when should a prenup be created and when should it be updated?

Readers in New York probably remember a previous story about the dismissal of a Long Island prenuptial agreement. A key factor in the judge's ruling was that the soon-to-be-husband essentially sprang the prenup on his fiancé just days before the wedding. The woman, who didn't want to postpone or call off the ceremony, signed the agreement under significant pressure.

She later said she was coerced. The judge agreed, and the prenup was thrown out. The moral of the story (or one of them, anyway): create a prenuptial agreement in plenty of time before the wedding. Don't wait until the big day is only a few weeks away.

It's also a good idea to update your agreement about every five years. Reviewing the document can help you and your spouse remain on the same page in terms of assets and debts. Clear communication in these matters can strengthen your bond in unexpected ways. Also important to note is that a will does not function in the same way as a prenuptial agreement, so don't assume that a will can serve as an effective substitute.

If you don't have a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can draft a postnuptial document. Of course, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are made solid by the appropriate legal language.

It's also important to keep in mind that, in light of the New York judge's recent ruling, a postnuptial agreement drafted shortly before a divorce may be perceived as fraud or coercion. This depends, of course, on your particular situation.

New Yorkers with questions about prenuptial agreements are encouraged to visit our New York family law page. Our firm helps couples, spouses and former spouses in a range of family law matters.

Source: Family Goes Strong, "On Prenuptial Agreements and Postnuptial Agreements," Karen Springen, April 7, 2013

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