Love, Relationships and Finance: Prenuptual Agreements pt. 5

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Where and when will we sign our agreement?

You’ll probably sign your pre-nup in a lawyer’s office and, in the best case, you’ll sign at least six to twelve months before your wedding date. We will tell you this much: Don’t sign on the way to the wedding! Courts will invalidate a pre-nup if they find that both parties did not have ample time to think about what they were signing.

Do pre-nups have to be witnessed and/or notarized in order to be valid?

Rules vary from state to state. In New York a pre-nup must be notarized to be valid. In other states, neither witnesses nor notaries are necessary. Your attorney(s) will be aware of the requirements in your state.

How much does it cost to draft a pre-nup?

The cost varies from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for financially complicated agreements -- still not much when you consider that a bitter divorce can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take years to resolve.

What if we want to make some changes after the contract is drawn up and signed?

This isn’t a problem. You will follow the same procedure you used when you had the contract drawn up in the first place. Have the agreement witnessed and notarized, if necessary, and state expressly whether you’re replacing the earlier document with this one or simply amending certain terms listed in the previous agreement. If you draft an agreement after you are married, it is technically known as a postnuptial agreement. The enforceability of postnuptial agreements varies from state to state.

If we draw up a pre-nup in one state and then move to another state, is the pre-nup still valid?

Not always, and possibly not in every detail. Have your original contract reviewed by a good attorney in the new state. If anything needs to be changed, he or she can make those changes. Be aware, however, that enforceability of postnuptial changes, like postnuptial agreements, varies from state to state.

If we have a pre-nup that divides our property differently from what is dictated by the laws of our state, will our pre-nup stand?

In most cases, yes. If the contract is drawn up correctly, your agreement will allow you to mod if or even wriggle out of the state property sys tem, even if you live in a community-property state. Then you can implement an agreement that better suits your needs.


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Monday, May 5, 2008 9:46