New York’s Domestic Relations Law sets out three specific requirements for prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. To be enforceable in New York, a marital contract must be:
• In writing
• Signed by both parties
• Acknowledged (that is, the signatures must be verified by a notary public, county clerk or any other person who is authorized to perform marriages)
A recent New York appellate court decision (Cioffi-Petrakis v. Petrakis) recently held that a prenuptial agreement is unenforceable if one party was fraudulently induced to sign it, which means the other party misrepresented or withheld important information. A court also is highly unlikely to enforce a marital contract where one of the parties was coerced into accepting the terms of the contract. Consequently, in addition to the statutory requirements, you should take the following steps to ensure that your prenuptial or postnuptial is valid:
• Each party should make a full financial disclosure, including all income, expenses, assets and debts.
• Each party should be independently represented by separate counsel.
• Each party should be given sufficient time to review and consider the proposed agreement.
Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. resolves family law issues for clients throughout Westchester and Putnam counties, including White Plains, Harrison, New Rochelle, Bedford, Armonk, Bronxville, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Somers, Croton-on-Hudson, Peekskill, Rye, and Carmel. Our office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with evening and weekend appointments available. Call us at 914-908-5877 or contact us online to arrange an appointment.