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New York court finds prenuptial agreement invalid on contract principle

This blog has previously talked about prenuptial agreements. Typically, courts find that a prenuptial agreement is valid and the terms outlined in the agreement can be important in determining rights should the couple later divorce. But it is important for New York residents to understand that a prenup is well-drafted and complete.

Premarital contracts are generally difficult to challenge in New York. However, a Brooklyn appeals court recently found a premarital agreement no longer valid in a divorce case. The agreement reportedly spelled out that should the couple divorce the woman would be entitled to receive $25,000 per year.

But, the woman challenged the prenuptial agreement in court, arguing that when the couple made the agreement her estranged husband had promised to tear the document up if the couple had any children during the marriage.

The promise to rip apart the agreement was not included in the written document. The man and woman reportedly have two sons and a daughter. The woman argued to the court that the prenuptial agreement became invalid once she had a child. The argument was based upon legal theories arising under contract law.

A Nassau County family court judge agreed in 2011 and an appellate ruling in Brooklyn upheld the Supreme Court ruling that declared the contract no longer valid. The decision may eventually make its way to the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court.

The issue in the individual divorce may give way to a contentious battle over marital property division. The husband is a real estate developer who reportedly is worth around $20 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "NY Court Decision Voiding Prenup Sparks Legal Row," Associated Press, Mar. 12, 2013

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