Many married couples sign a prenuptial agreement before getting married, and these agreements are especially common in second marriages. A prenuptial agreement in New York outlines how the couple will manage their finances. The couples might not be wealthy, but they want to know what they are dealing with before they marry.

Prenuptial agreement history

Prenuptial agreements have existed for centuries. Before the Married Woman’s Property Act of 1848, a widow or divorced woman could lose any property she accumulated during marriage. Any inherited property transferred to the husband’s ownership, so a prenuptial agreement was needed.

Pros and cons

Prenuptial agreements often have a negative view because the couple feels they are planning for a divorce before marriage. Though the divorce rate is high, some couples consider them unromantic and think it indicates a lack of trust and commitment. Prenuptial arrangements can be voided for unfairness, fraud or hiding assets.

On the positive side, prenuptial agreements can help preserve family property and protect assets for children from previous marriages. It does not suggest that a couple is anticipating divorce; it helps them get everything out in plain view.

Factors to consider

Several states have community property agreements, which means assets get divided equally. Other states divide assets based on equitable distribution, so it’s important to take this into account when constructing an agreement.

Both parties should never hide feelings or assets and not wait until a few days before they marry to make an agreement. Each party should get their own lawyer.

A prenuptial agreement is not for every couple, but it saves them the hassle of litigation over asset division if they later decide to divorce. In the event of a divorce without an existing prenuptial agreement, a family law attorney may be able to advise an individual about what to do.