A prenuptial agreement is also known as a premarital agreement. It is a
contract entered into between two people prior to their marriage for the
purpose of determining the financial concerns of two people in the event
that their marriage does not work out and comes to an end. While the content
of a prenuptial agreement often varies significantly, most prenuptial
agreements provide for the
division of property (equitable distribution) and
spousal support (maintenance or alimony).
The prenuptial agreement can be a very useful tool towards limiting the
financial risks that one spouse may incur if he or she were to get married.
The document is also used to limit a person's responsibilities in
the event that one party to a marriage predeceases the other, by waiving
their individual rights to the right of election (taking their share of
the decedent's estate which is left by Will or allowed by statute).
In Order to be enforceable in New York State, a
prenuptial agreement must be in writing, executed by both parties in the manner required for
a deed to be signed. It must be entered into voluntarily, with full disclosure
of the parties' current assets at the time and it cannot be unconscionable.
The threat of one party to refuse to marry the other person if they do
not sign the prenuptial agreement is not considered duress and does not
alter the voluntary aspect of entering into the agreement.