When two people enter into a marriage, they plan for their marriage to last. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the outcome. Approximately 1 in 4 recent marriages end in divorce in the United States. Individuals who enter into a second or third marriage can face a 75% or higher chance of getting a divorce. Even those couples who do not consider divorce to be an option may end up getting a divorce down the road. Taking the time to protect yourself and your property through a prenuptial agreement before you enter into marriage can be incredibly beneficial.
Our New York Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers Can Help
If you are entering into a marriage and are considering creating a prenuptial agreement, our lawyers can help. At Thomas Weiss & Associates, we have helped many couples create thorough and helpful prenuptial agreements. Prenuptial agreements are the best way to avoid an expensive, lengthy, contested divorce process. Our law firm offers potential clients a free in-office consultation. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn how our legal team can help you protect yourself through a prenuptial agreement.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Couples sign a prenuptial agreement before they get married. Prenuptial agreements are legally binding documents recognized by every state. The agreement establishes how the couple will divide up their assets should they ever get divorced. Each prenuptial agreement is unique and tailored to that individual couple. In a thorough prenuptial agreement, couples can state the following:
- Which premarital debts are separate and which are joint
- State who is responsible for debts after the marriage takes place
- State which assets or property will remain with each spouse after a divorce
- Specify which spouse’s income will pay for specific debts after a divorce
Prenuptial Agreements Spare You From a Lengthy Contested Divorce
Divorce is often incredibly time-consuming and expensive. Even when divorcing spouses agree on almost every issue involved in the divorce, they can still spend significant money on the divorce process. The national average cost of a divorce is approximately $15,000 per person. Contested divorces that involve the extensive division of property or highly contested child custody issues can cost $50,000 or more.
The cost of a contested divorce is significant enough. The time and emotional burden of going through a highly contested divorce can also cause significant stress and damage. Sometimes, couples start on the same page but as the divorce process goes on, they begin to disagree on significant issues, particularly child custody issues. The more disagreement that takes place, the more time and money the divorce takes. When couples have a well-drafted prenuptial agreement that addresses common legal issues in the divorce process, they experience a quick resolution to the process and can avoid a lengthy court battle.
Protect Your Family Heirlooms and Separate Property
In a prenuptial agreement, couples can write out how they would like their property to be divided up should a divorce take place. The division of debts and assets is often one of the most contentious areas of divorce. During a contentious divorce, spouses sometimes try to claim ownership of a property even when it does not make sense. A prenuptial agreement allows couples to divide assets and debts before the marriage comes to a divorce. The couple can specify which property and assets belong to each individual and how they would like to handle the asset distribution if they do end up getting a divorce. For example, if one spouse has a piano that is an important family heirloom, that spouse can state that in the event of a divorce, the piano will stay with that spouse.
Protect Yourself from Your Spouse’s Debt
When finance comes into the marriage with poor spending habits and a large amount of debt, a prenup agreement becomes even more important. Perhaps one soon-to-be spouse discovers that his or her fiance has been secretly charging up a credit card. Or, one fiance could have taken on significant debt to start a business. In all of these scenarios, agreeing to a prenuptial agreement can be incredibly helpful. A prenuptial agreement can make it clear which fiance will retain the burden of which debts after the dissolution of the marriage.
Define Marital Property and Separate Property
New York state is now an equitable distribution state. During the divorce process in New York, a judge will divide their property in an equitable and fair manner. A judge does not need to divide the property evenly, however. Judges look at many factors before deciding how to divide up the property, such as:
- The age and health of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s contribution to the joint assets
- Tax consequences
- Any other factor the judge deems relevant to dividing up the property
In New York, only marital property is subject to division in a divorce. Each divorcing spouse gets to keep the property he or she acquired before the marriage. Separate property includes property a spouse acquired before the marriage, inheritance, and gifts given to one spouse, personal injury awards, and any property set forth as separate in a prenuptial agreement. When finance is in doubt as to whether or not a judge would designate property as separate, creating a prenuptial agreement could be beneficial. A well-written prenuptial agreement will clearly state which property qualifies as marital property. It will also state which property qualifies as separate property.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Help Prepare You for Your Future
Going through a divorce can create significant financial stress. It is not uncommon for individuals to file for bankruptcy after a contentious and expensive divorce. By avoiding the expense of a divorce, an individual helps ensure his or her financial stability going forward. A prenuptial agreement helps people entering a subsequent marriage to bring their assets into that marriage or into retirement.