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Postnuptial agreements are a lot like prenuptial agreements, but they’re configured after a couple gets married. In New York, postnuptial agreements are honored by a court of law in the instance a divorce occurs, but only if the agreement meets certain conditions. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, which is recognized widely as a legal and exceptionally binding document, a postnuptial agreement is a little less binding and recognizable due to the newness of this particular form.
If you’re married and interested in creating a postnuptial agreement, you want to contact an attorney for various reasons. The first reason is to ensure your document is legal and binding. The second is to ensure the document is drawn up legally and in a way that doesn’t allow room for interpretation rather than stating simple facts that cannot be argued by the other party.
Creating a postnuptial agreement is not something all couples do when they decide to wed, but it’s something many couples do for reasons that are highly personal. One of the most common reasons someone might push for an agreement of this nature is a major change post-wedding. For example, you didn’t think a prenuptial agreement was necessary when you were dating and engaged, but your spouse is now suffering from addiction and you want to ensure your finances, kids, career, and business are covered and protected if one of you decides to end this marriage.
How is a postnuptial agreement considered legal?
You can write down what you want and what you need if you divorce and sign the document together, but that doesn’t make it a binding document. The State of New York recognizes a few different postnuptial agreements in the court, and something you make at home is going to be easily argued and voided.
Call attorneys. It’s helpful if you both have a different attorney working for you to ensure you’re both getting what’s fair and what’s right in this agreement. Have it drawn up and drafted by one attorney, and allow the other attorney to look over the paperwork to ensure it’s fair and well. The law does not recognize the postnup if it’s not fair. This means you can decide you want absolutely nothing from your spouse if you divorce and sign off on that happily but the court will not recognize that you’re walking away with nothing.
The court will not recognize your postnuptial agreement if it’s unsigned. Both of you must sign the agreement, and it’s better if someone else signs it as a notary. This shows that you were both of sound mind and body when you signed the agreement. If one of you states you felt forced or threatened to sign this document, it’s invalid in the eyes of the court. Finally, it must be a written document. Oral agreements are not enforceable in the court. Oral agreements turn into a he-said, she-said type situation and no one has a way of proving any of it.
Is a postnuptial agreement a good idea?
It’s a good idea for some couples, but not for all couples. If you’re a couple who got married on an unequal footing, it might be a good idea. For example, if you are a business owner who runs the family business and you failed to sign any prenuptial agreements protecting your family’s business in the event your marriage didn’t work out, you might want to sign a postnuptial agreement to do that.
If one of you enters the marriage with considerable assets, with considerable debt, or with anything else you want to protect or want protection from, this is a form you want to sign. It’s not foolproof, and your attorney can argue certain points if you really want to see about breaking the binding contract you sign now, but it’s not always easy and it doesn’t always work.
It’s never a good idea to sign a postnuptial agreement if it leaves you with considerably less than you deserve. For example, if your spouse owns a business with his family and you live in the family estate, you might end up with the kids half the time, some child support for them, and nowhere to live or work if you divorce if you sign off on leaving the family business and home in the event your marriage fails.
Call An Attorney
If you’re making the decision to sign a postnuptial agreement, call an attorney. You want someone who represents you and you alone. This is a person who will fight for your best interests and what works for you, and this is a person who will do whatever it takes to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. What you believe is fair on paper might not seem as fair when your attorney looks it over and recognizes specific legal terms you’re unfamiliar with.
You might not think it matters much since your marriage is one you know will last forever, but you do want to protect yourself in case it doesn’t. Things change, life happens, and you want to be sure what you sign is fair and well for you. You don’t want to end up losing out on things that are important to you if your spouse decides to leave you once he or she is legally covered and protected by a postnup agreement.