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Prenuptial agreements becoming increasingly popular

New York residents will likely associate prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with wealthy celebrities or business people who want to protect their assets or income should they decide to divorce. Prenuptial agreements have been fairly common among the wealthy for several decades, but their popularity surged following the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that more than 60 percent of their members have witnessed an increase in the demand for prenuptial agreements in recent years.

A prenuptial agreement allows a couple to set their own rules for how their assets and incomes will be treated in a divorce. It essentially allows couples to opt out of the property division laws in their state of residence, but they should take care when negotiating and drafting these agreements as there are a number of factors that could render them unenforceable.

If a prenuptial agreement is to withstand judicial scrutiny, it must have been entered into willingly by both parties. Indications of harassment or duress, such as heavily lopsided terms and provisions, will likely lead judges to rule the agreement invalid. Other factors that judges may take into consideration when assessing these documents is whether or not both spouses had legal representation during negotiations and had sufficient time to ponder the terms and conditions before signing.

Research indicates that arguments about money and financial pressures are a leading cause of the end of a marriage. While many may see prenuptial agreements as a cynical tool of the rich, experienced family law attorneys might contend that prenuptial agreements often actually strengthen marriages and may help prepare couples for the challenging road ahead. Attorneys could point out that the frank financial discussions that form the basis of prenuptial agreement negotiations may uncover anxieties and fears that left undiscovered could erode marriages over time.

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