Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Commonly called “prenuptial” and “postnuptial” agreements, these documents, if properly handled, can benefit both parties in the unfortunate event of separation or divorce. The only difference between the two is when the document is signed – a prenuptial agreement is signed before a marriage, while a postnuptial agreement is signed sometime after the wedding.
But, the intent and content of such a document is the same: to avoid problems down the line if the marriage fails. There are many reasons why parties may choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement. Most commonly, we have seen that events may occur during a marriage that cause stress on the relationship and, in order to feel comfortable giving the marriage another try or attempting to work those difficulties out, one or both spouses may want to define their rights in the event of separation or divorce.
Enter a Marriage with Confidence
While nobody gets married to get divorced, the simple reality is that the divorce rate has hovered just under or just over 50%, meaning that about half of all marriages do not work out for one reason or another. If you know anyone who has been divorced, or if you have previously been married, you may know or have heard that the divorce process can be daunting and expensive.
Properly Drafted Agreement
With a properly drafted agreement that governs the rights and obligations of the partners to a marriage, spouses can enter a marriage with confidence. At Quatela Chimeri, we take pride in spending time with our individual clients to determine and ultimately take into great consideration the specific goals, concerns and life circumstances. This way, once the agreement is signed, both individuals are comfortable knowing where they stand. If, down the line, it does not work out, such an agreement should avoid costly and unpleasant divorce proceedings that often involves litigation, and ensure a mutually agreed upon, fair, and orderly resolution of the parties’ financial affairs.
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Complex Marital Agreements
Our firm regularly represents clients in complex marital agreements and such experience is vital because often, the enforceability of these agreements may come under scrutiny. If you are going to have a lawyer prepare an agreement for your benefit, you should take every step to make certain that you will reap those benefits.
We have litigated the validity of pre and postnuptial agreements, both on behalf of the party seeking to set aside such an agreement, as well as defending against a party attacking the validity of a fair and proper agreement. Litigation experience with prenuptial agreements furthers our skill sets in drafting agreements for our clients, as the law evolves regularly on this topic and being litigators enables us to remain cutting edge.
Prenuptial agreements are particularly useful in situations where one or both spouses are entering the marriage with significant pre-existing assets. For example, documents and information pertaining to separate property may be difficult to obtain in the event of a divorce that is filed years or decades later, leading to costly litigation and potentially the loss of separate property rights, but a prenuptial agreement alleviates those issues.
Domestic Partner Agreements
Nowadays, families comprised of a “husband, wife, 2.2 kids, a dog and a white picket fence” are the exception, as opposed to the rule. We at Quatela Chimeri, recognize the changing definition and roles in families, and that families are not “one size fits all.” Nor then, should your law firm approach the formation of that family as such.
Partner Christopher J. Chimeri regularly lectures across New York State to lawyers and judges on the topic of the expanding definition and types of families recognized by the law, and the overwhelming trend is that virtually any type of living arrangement is possible.
Many couples, for any number of reasons, live in committed households that function just as a family unit but decide not to get married. These committed households often involve co-signing leases on rental homes, jointly purchasing real estate, joint bank accounts and credit cards, sharing of children whether in common or step children, and other interweaving that. Usually this is done without a written agreement containing the understanding of the partners to the relationship, which often leaves a court or the parties without the ability to address each party’s respective rights and obligations if the relationship should fail.
Where there is a comingling of households with the intent of a long-term committed relationship, it is advisable to consider a domestic partnership agreement that can contain as much, or as little, detail as the parties wish, including such agreements as pertain to property ownership, who will contribute to the finances and in what amounts or percentages, care of children, pet ownership, and other important decisions.
Domestic Relations Law
Unfortunately, the laws governing relationships and the home and family, which is called the Domestic Relations Law, generally pertains (with some exceptions) only to married couples or people that have children in common. To avail one’s self of the rights and protections of the law, as well as to define those rights from the beginning, a domestic partner or cohabitation agreement is a terrific option.
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