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Wife argues that prenup is invalid because husband wasn't ID'd

The state of New York has specific laws related to drafting prenuptial agreements. In particular, the Domestic Relations Law requires that soon-to-be spouses go before an authorized person, usually a notary, and acknowledge the terms of the prenup. That acknowledgement must be oral and written for the agreement to be valid. Also, a New York statute requires that the notary confirm the identities of the parties involved.

In other words, for a prenuptial agreement to hold up in court, you have to dot the t's and cross the i's.

Consider an ongoing dispute in Rochester, New York. A couple married in 1997, and the wife filed divorce papers 10 years later. In her movement for summary judgment, whereby the court would have ruled in her favor and against her husband, the wife claimed the prenuptial agreement should be deemed invalid because initially the notary failed to ask the husband for identification.

Even after the notary provided an affidavit that corrected the flaw, the wife's attorney (not affiliated with this firm) argued that "if it's not done right contemporaneously, it's invalid, period."

But the attorney for the husband pointed out the legal precedence for correcting defective documents such as prenups.

The case is being heard in the Court of Appeals in Rochester after the wife's attempt to invalidate the agreement was already denied last year in an appellate court. The husband's attorney argued that the wife stands to collect a "windfall" if she wins the case.

Clearly, not every prenuptial agreement has to be the subject of a dispute. When properly drafted, these agreements can give couples the peace of mind that financial independence is in their future, even if the worst should happen. Comprehensive planning, legal knowledge and attention to detail are the keys to drafting an airtight prenup.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Court of Appeals hears arguments in prenuptial dispute," Daniel Wiessner, April 23, 2013

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