Invalidation of Prenuptial Agreements in New York Leads to Equitable Division of Marital Property

In our previous article, we tackled the importance of engaging the service of an experienced New York lawyer in the drafting and execution of the prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement may be a agreement that will not, only, save you money, but can also save your business.

In this prior article, we discussed what a prenuptial agreement is and what can and cannot be included in New York prenuptial agreement. But we never fully covered what shall happen if the spouse challenges the validity of the prenuptial agreement and the New York court ruled that the prenuptial agreement is invalid.

Hence, in this article, we shall discuss the basic grounds for challenging the validity of a prenuptial agreement, how the assets shall be divided, and how other matters shall be settled according to New York law if the spouses divorce and their prenuptial agreement is invalid.

Prenuptial agreement.

Grounds for Invalidation of NY Prenuptial Agreement

  1. One spouse signed the agreement under duress;
  2. One spouse defrauded the other in signing the agreement;
  3. One spouse wasn’t mentally competent to sign the agreement;
  4. One spouse was under the age of 18;
  5. One spouse misrepresented his or her financial condition or assets;
  6. The prenuptial agreement was unconscionable or grossly unfair;
  7. The prenuptial agreement was not in writing; or
  8. The parties signed the prenuptial agreement after the couples married.

Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in New York

If the New York court ruled the divorcing couples prenuptial agreement as invalid, instead of enforcing the terms of the invalid prenuptial agreement, the court shall apply the rule of “equitable distribution” in dividing the financial and other marital assets of the spouses.

In New York, marital property is not automatically split equally (50/50) rather the entitlement of each spouse to equitable distribution of the marital property shall depend on the following factors:

  • conduct of each spouse during the time of marriage;
  • contributions of each spouse to the marital partnership;
  • duration of the marriage;
  • age and health of each spouse;
  • occupation of each spouse;
  • financial incomes and its sources;
  • employability, education and training of each spouse;
  • the ability of each spouse to acquire capital assets and future income; and
  • estate, liabilities, and needs of each spouse.

Further, New York Domestic Relations law requires the court to determine the marital property and separate property of each spouse. And each spouse must identify and provide a specific value of the marital property in order for the court to make a determination on how to apply these equitable distribution principles. All property and assets acquired by both or either spouses during the marriage, in most cases, are considered marital property by New York courts.

New York Separate Property

The one making the claim that a property is not marital property has the burden of prove that the property was “indeed as separate property.” Under New York law, the following situations are considered separate property – in most cases:

  1. Property acquired by devise, bequest, and descent or as a gift from a party other than the spouse;
  2. Property acquired prior to the marriage;
  3. Property obtained from personal injury compensation;
  4. Property obtained during an exchange of separate property or through an increase in the value of that property; and
  5. Property considered separate property in a written agreement by both spouses.

If you would like to know more about Prenuptial Agreements, Equitable Distribution of Marital Property or other issues concerning Family Law or Child Custody please: Schedule a Call with our New York Lawyer. We are engaged for issues for clients in North America, Asia and for The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, international service of process and enforcement of foreign judgment issues.

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