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New York appeals court rules on contested prenuptial agreement

In April, we covered the case of a New York couple who was in court disputing the validity of the prenuptial agreement they signed in 1997. The woman involved in the case moved to nix the agreement because her husband failed to provide proof of identity to the notary at the time the document was signed. The dispute began in 2007 and worked its way through the courts until just recently.

At the end of May, a Rochester, New York, appeals court ruled in favor of the wife. The husband tried to make the case that failing to check for identification was an "honest mistake," and provided a sworn affidavit from the notary in 2007. Having an affidavit ten years after the fact was not enough to sway the court, however.

Legal observers note that it's not uncommon for there to be mistakes in prenuptial agreements that aren't noticed until the couple is working through a divorce. In this case, the court kept their ruling limited to this specific case, and said that the evidence provided by the affidavit wasn't sufficient to prove the husband's identity, which is required by law.

The appellate judges noted that the legal question about remedying flawed prenuptials is a common legal question. However, the panel specifically strayed away from addressing the larger issue.

Until New York courts provide further guidance about "curing" flawed prenuptial agreements, it's of the utmost importance for couples to make sure their agreements are accurately completed. In addition to that, it's crucial to make sure the process to validate the agreement is followed to the letter. Prenups are intended to ease the divorce process, so dealing with a years-long dispute may be counterintuitive.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Defective prenup not cured by affidavit: N.Y. Court of Appeals," Daniel Wiessner, May 30, 2013

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