After dating for several years the Defendant, who was a NYC Police Officer, and was reluctant to get married discussed with his fiancee that he would only marry if they had aPre-Nuptial Agreement. She understood it to mean that she would give up any rights to two bank accounts. The future husband hired a lawyer to prepare the agreement in January or February 1998 and the wedding date was scheduled for June 20, 2008.
There were delays by the attorney in preparing the agreement and on June 6, 2008 the future husband called the bride-to-be and told her that they could go to the lawyer's office to sign the agreement. While the husband might have seen a draft of the agreement, the wife never saw or read the agreement before, the attorney did not explain it to them and they were in his office for a total of approximately 15 minutes.
The Pre-Nuptial Agreement contained many more provisions including a waiver of maintenance, insurance benefits, his
pension and his estate. None of this had been discussed with the bride by the attorney or even by her future husband. The court found that even after they were married the husband's actions were inconsistent with the terms of the agreement.
Where the terms were not explained, were radically different from what was proposed for the agreement, where there was no attorney review for the bride and where the agreement was presented two weeks before the wedding the court determined that the agreement was unenforceable and would be set aside due to unconsionability, overreaching and duress.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements are complicated and to be valid there are many necessary steps to be taken. There must be financial disclosure, adequate time to review and discuss, a lack of coercion or duress and an understanding of the provisions. Having an experienced matrimonial attorney for each party helps insure the validity of the agreement. Remember the key is to have a valid agreement when you need it, not just to have any agreement signed.
If you need to prepare or have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement reviewed please call my office to schedule your consultation so that we can help protect your rights.