Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
A couple may enter into a contract before they marry called a prenuptial or premarital agreement. This contract may set rules for the treatment of separate property acquired prior to the marriage or other property acquired during the marriage. In addition, it can identify assets and debts as well as provide guidelines for property division and spousal support in the event of a separation, death or divorce.
To be valid and enforceable, prenuptial agreements must be in writing, duly acknowledged and signed freely by both spouses. The contract must not be entered under duress, and both parties must provide full disclosure of assets and debts. Each spouse should also be afforded an opportunity to consult with separate Rochester marital agreements lawyers.
Conversely, parties who are already married may enter a postnuptial agreement if they did not create a prenuptial agreement before they were married. A postnuptial contract may alternatively be used to update prenuptial agreement terms due to a change in the couple’s circumstances. Postnuptial agreements require the same elements as prenuptial agreements to be enforceable, and likewise may contain specific terms for property division and spousal maintenance in case of a future separation, death or divorce.
Separation and Settlement Agreements
Rochester courts recognize legal separations as a first step in the divorce process or an alternative that allows parties to live apart while delaying a divorce and/or attempting to reconcile. Like other marital agreements, a separation agreement provides various rules and expectations for the parties. If the couple decides to divorce, the terms may be used in the final divorce judgment.
Finally, settlement agreements are executed as part of and during a divorce action to address property division, spousal maintenance, debts, and issues involving children. If both parties can agree on terms, they may be able to avoid trial and associated costs.
Challenges to Marital Agreements
One party may decide to challenge a marital agreement. If so, they bear legal the burden of proving that the agreement is invalid. Courts may invalidate an agreement if it is found to be severely one-sided, unfair, “unconscionable” or was the result of fraud or duress. A seasoned marital agreements attorney in Rochester can further specify on what grounds a challenge to such an agreement may be successful.