Many people with significant wealth opt to enter into prenuptial agreements prior to getting married in an effort to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. While the courts generally favor upholding prenuptial agreements, in some circumstances, they will be deemed unenforceable and therefore void. In a recent opinion, a New York court discussed the grounds for finding a prenuptial agreement to be unconscionable in a divorce case in which the wife sought to have an agreement set aside and vacated. If you or your future spouse wish to enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying, it is important to speak to an experienced New York family law attorney regarding your options.
The Parties Prenuptial Agreement
It is reported that the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement in 2003, prior to getting married. The agreement contained provisions regarding separate property, child support, child custody, and estate and maintenance waivers. The husband paid for an attorney to represent the wife with regards to the agreement, but she did not choose the attorney and never met him prior to signing the agreement. Additionally, the attorney did not advise her of the financial implications of the agreement.
Allegedly, in 2019, the wife filed for divorce. During the proceedings, she filed a motion to have the agreement set aside as unconscionable and vacated. In response, the husband filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether the agreement was valid and enforceable. The court ultimately determined that an issue of fact that necessitated a hearing existed on the issue of the validity of the agreement.
Grounds for Vacating a Prenuptial Agreement
In New York, there is a strong public policy in favor of parties determining their rights through premarital agreements, and properly executed agreements are granted the same presumption of legality as any other contract. While New York has statutory laws that determine how assets are divided in a divorce and what constitutes marital and separate property, parties can agree to opt-out of the statutory framework.
Prenuptial agreements that are entered into by parties will be enforceable and valid if they are in writing, signed, and acknowledged, and parties that seek to set aside such agreements face a very high burden. Agreements between future spouses may be invalidated if they are the product of duress, fraud, or other inequitable behavior. In the subject case, the wife argued that the agreement was unfair and unconscionable and was the product of overreaching. The court found that, at a minimum, a factual dispute existed as to whether the wife’s allegations were true. Thus, it denied the husband’s motion for summary judgment.
Speak to a Trusted Family Law Attorney in New York
Prenuptial agreements can give people peace of mind that their assets are protected should they divorce, but they must be drafted and entered into properly to be enforceable. If you or your spouse wish to enter into a prenuptial agreement, attorney Ksenia Rudyuk can assist you in developing a contract that is fair and protects your rights. Ms. Rudyuk is a trusted New York family law attorney, and if you engage her services, she will work tirelessly to help you pursue the best result possible in your case. You can reach Ms. Rudyuk through the form online or at 212-706-2001 to schedule a meeting.