Prenuptial agreements have not always had a great reputation. They have long been seen as a way to maintain a wealth and power imbalance in relationships rather than protecting the interests of both spouses. Thankfully, the reputation of prenuptial agreements is changing because they are now being used by a wider percentage of the population – and being used more ethically.
One reason for the increase in prenuptial agreements is the increase in average marital age. In previous generations, couples often got married right out of high school or in early college, when they didn’t really have individual assets to protect. These days, couples often wait until their late 20s or early 30s to marry. Some choose to wait even longer. This means that each spouse is more likely to be established in his or her career and to have earned some individual wealth in need of protection.
Who are these contracts appropriate for?
If you’re an established professional, if you own your own business or otherwise have individual assets you want to protect, a prenuptial agreement is worth considering. If you are already married but believe that it would have been wise to have an agreement in place, the good news is that New York law also recognizes postnuptial agreements, which offer many of the same benefits and protections.
Contrary to long-held myths, these contracts don’t encourage divorce or demonstrate a lack of commitment to the marriage. Instead, they are simply a divorce contingency plan that would make proceedings faster, less contentious, and often, less expensive. If drafted well, they are mutually beneficial to each spouse.
It’s important to work with and consult an attorney
Any contract or legal document should be drafted and reviewed with the help of an experienced attorney, and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are no different. Hiring an attorney is the best way to craft an agreement that is fair, equitable and legally sound (no contract is worthwhile if it cannot withstand legal challenges).
Moreover, each spouse or spouse-to-be should discuss the drafted agreement with their own respective attorney before signing. That way, each party can be sure they have received legal advice that is in their best interests and will feel much more confident about their decision to sign.
If you’d like to learn more about our firm’s approach to these contracts, visit our prenuptial and postnuptial agreements page.