How Do Prenuptial Agreements Work?

Can I Limit or Eliminate Alimony (Spousal Maintenance)?

At Novak & Novak P.C., we will give you a prenuptial agreement to do just that. Some attorneys incorrectly advise clients that they must pay some amount of alimony to make an agreement valid and enforceable. That is not the case. Our attorneys will advise you on creating an agreement that effectively waives alimony to the fullest extent possible in New York.

Can My Spouse & I Retain the Same Attorney?

Our clients frequently come to us with this question, and the answer is, unfortunately, no. For a New York attorney to represent both parties, it would be a clear-cut conflict of interest. Moreover, sharing an attorney with your spouse would go directly against your interests. Ideally, each party would retain their own attorney to explain the prenuptial agreement in detail. When we represent you, you will have our undivided attention, and we will represent you and your best interests exclusively.

However, if one party retains an attorney, the other party can still execute the agreement without hiring an attorney. We would include the requisite waiver explaining that they forgo their right to an attorney. In addition, we are not able to speak to the other spouse.

If I Retain You to Review a Prenup My Fiancé’s Attorney Prepared, Can My Spouse Pay For It?

No. We cannot accept payment from your spouse. We do accept credit cards, however, the money must come directly from you. That is, we can not take a credit card that belongs to your spouse… it must be your credit card that is in your name only.

You need to pay for your own attorney and vice versa for your fiancé. It is not in either party’s interest to pay for the other’s attorney directly because it creates a conflict of interest.

What Form of Payment Do You Accept?

Consultations are complimentary. If you retain us, after you consult with one of our attorneys, you will receive a link to a secure payment portal to pay the fixed fee for our services. You can pay online from your computer or phone using a credit card or another payment method that is convenient to you.

Can A Prenuptial Agreement Protect Against Debt?

Having debt is an unfortunate but increasingly common issue for Americans. Debt is an important issue to consider when you get married. The question becomes who will be responsible for debts in the present and future once your legal status is changed by marriage.

If your spouse had accrued debt prior to the marriage, such as credit card debt, then in New York, you, the non-debtor spouse, have no liability in most instances. One New York case, Ragucci v. Ragucci, stated this concept as follows: “[A] financial obligation should remain a spouse’s separate liability where it is incurred by that spouse alone and in pursuit of his or her own interests.”

During the marriage, however, the question of who is responsible for a particular debt becomes more complicated. The original debt of one spouse may be utilized to benefit the overall marital relationship. For example, one spouse has credit card debt and uses that card to pay for the cable bills or groceries for the home. Since the credit card is being used for joint reasons, it can now easily be viewed as marital debt.

The right prenuptial agreement is an effective tool to address these debt issues and delineate who is responsible for any current debt and any future debts between the parties going forward.

At Novak & Novak, in order to protect our client’s interests, our attorneys have drafted and refined, over the years, detailed specific provisions within our prenuptial agreements to address these debt-related issues. When you retain Novak & Novak to handle your prenuptial agreement, you will receive this benefit automatically. Moreover, we will customize your prenuptial agreement to address your particular situation and desires. To find out more, call 800-600-2840 for a free one-on-one consultation or submit a contact form, and an attorney can contact you back at a convenient time.

What About Property Acquired in the Future?

New York Law presumes that everything acquired during the marriage is marital. There are a few exceptions, such as receiving a gift in your specific name or inheriting property from someone else. Outside of these exceptions, and without a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement, the law presumes that everything is marital property.

At Novak & Novak, we have devised strategies and drafted our prenuptial agreements to cover property acquired after the marriage. While this is a tricky area of law, we can guide you through and obtain a prenuptial agreement that can protect property that you acquire after the date of marriage. While there are exceptions, and there is a course of action that you need to follow (which we will advise you on as part of our retainer), your goal can be achieved.

Do I Have to Come Into the Office?

The entire process can be completed virtually. We will thoroughly consult with you over the phone and electronically deliver any information or documents that you need. The requirement for a public notary to notarize and witness your and your fiancé’s signature of the agreement can be completed anywhere in New York State. Many banks commonly have their own notaries that can help clients for little to no cost. UPS stores and libraries are also easy places to find a notary. Finally, while most people find it most convenient to go to a local notary to sign in person, we can guide you to new online notary services that are legally binding.

I live in Buffalo. I See You Have Offices Throughout Long Island and NYC. Can You Still Help Me?

Yes, we have clients throughout New York State who are extremely satisfied with our 100% virtual prenuptial agreement services. We efficiently reach many people who are looking for an accessible expert in prenuptial agreements, no matter where in New York state they are located.

Do Same-Sex Couples Need Prenuptial Agreements Too?

Prenuptial agreements are just as effective & legally binding for same-sex couples. Historically, several states did not recognize premarital agreements because their laws did not recognize gay marriage – even if a couple was legally married under the law of another state. However, when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally in its landmark ruling, Obergefell v. Hodge, in 2015, LGBT premarital agreements became enforceable everywhere in the United States.

In the LGBT community, prenuptial agreements play an important role in ensuring that both parties are treated fairly because, although illegal, discrimination regrettably persists in some courts during divorce. A prenup is an effective way to take part, if not most, of the divorce out of an individual Judge’s discretion.

Can a Prenup Be Used to Establish Child Support and Custody?

A prenuptial cannot be utilized to address child support, custody, care, or education issues. In the event of a divorce, a Family court determines, as per the best interests of the child, all child support, custody, care, and education-related issues.

That being said, if you bring minor children to a marriage from a prior marriage and the new spouse does not adopt them, a prenup can address, to an extent, in the event of a divorce that the children are provided for (for example in terms of an inheritance). Another example would be if your future spouse is paying child support for a child from a previous relationship or marriage. We can draft your agreement to specify that these payments will be only made from your spouse’s separate property. We can likewise similarly address college expenses for children from previous relationships or marriages.

Can I Revise A Prenuptial Agreement In New York?

In New York, a prenuptial agreement can be revised at any point during a marriage. In fact, a prenuptial agreement can even be nullified or revoked. Both of these options require, of course, a mutual agreement between the parties.

The most practical method to revise a prenuptial agreement, as we advise most of our clients who come to us with this request, is to have us create a postnuptial agreement to modify the terms of a prenuptial agreement. Call us to modify your prenuptial agreement today, or follow this link to the contact form.

What Is Marital Vs Separate Property?

Unfortunately, more than half of all marriages, according to some studies – 53%, in the United States end in divorce. Furthermore, a majority of people do not learn about how the law treats a couple’s property until they get divorced.

There is separate property, which is yours individually and that you may get to keep in the event of a divorce. Then there is marital property, which the court, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, considers property that is jointly owned by both spouses. In general, marital property is divided “fairly” but not necessarily equally or 50/50.

That being said, our attorneys can draft a prenuptial agreement allowing you to decide what remains yours (i.e., separate property) in case of a divorce. We can also define, if you so desire, what is to be considered joint property (i.e., marital property). We can further delineate how and in what percentages, as per your guidelines, such joint property (marital property) should be divided in the event of a divorce between you and your spouse.