Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that more than 40% of the couples who walk down the aisle each year in New York and around the country will get divorced sooner or later. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are viewed by many as a sort of divorce insurance policy, but they are actually the complete opposite. A well-drafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement provides stability in a marriage because it lets both spouses know where they stand, encourages financial responsibility, and eliminates the fear that can undermine even a healthy relationship.
What can be included in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?
Provisions dealing with property division and alimony are usually the key components of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. When discussing these matters, couples should work toward an outcome that is essentially fair, and they need to negotiate in good faith and declare all of their assets and sources of income. If they do not, the resulting agreement is unlikely to withstand a court challenge.
What cannot be included in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements cannot be used to address all of the issues that may arise in a divorce. They cannot contain provisions dealing with child custody or support, as these matters must be decided by a judge based on the best interests of the child and not the wishes of the parents. These agreements should support and strengthen marriages, and judges will not enforce them if they appear to offer a financial incentive to divorce.
Revising prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can strengthen a marriage by letting both parties know where they stand on matters like property division and spousal support, but they cannot establish child custody arrangements or encourage either spouse to seek a divorce. If you decide to draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you should revisit and revise it from time to time to make sure that it accounts for any changes in your financial situation.