Particularly in the Second Department, the last few years have brought a host of cases threatening the enforceability of prenuptial agreements. To review a few just type “prenup” in the keyword search at right. It’s going to get worse.

New York’s Domestic Relations Law §236(B)(3) provides that prenuptial and other marital agreements executed with proper formalities are valid and may include

(1) a contract to make a testamentary provision of any kind, or a waiver of any right to elect against the provisions of a will;

(2) provision for the ownership, division or distribution of separate and marital property;

(3) provision for the amount and duration of maintenance or other terms and conditions of the marriage relationship, subject to the provisions of section 5-311 of the general obligations law, and provided that such terms were fair and reasonable at the time of the making of the agreement and are not unconscionable at the time of entry of final judgment;

and (4) provision for the custody, care, education and maintenance of any child of the parties, subject to the provisions of section two hundred forty of this article.

The December 24, 2014 decision of the First Department in Anonymous v. Anonymous, is a case in point.

In this matrimonial action the wife had sought, among other things, to set aside the parties’ prenuptial agreement.Ruling on several motions, Supreme Court, New York County Justice Ellen Gesmer upheld the validity generally of the the prenuptial agreement, but held the issue of the current unconscionability of the spousal support provision would be resolved at trial.


Continue Reading Litigating Prenuptial Agreements Is Going To Get Messier

In order to prevent the foreclosure of the marital residence, a court in a divorce action, and prior to judgment, may order the spouses to cooperate with a refinance application. Moreover, if the property is not successfully refinanced, the court, before divorce judgment, may compel a spouse to satisfy (at least) one half of the current mortgage in default.

Such was the holding of the Appellate Division, First Department, in its January 3, 2013 decision in Nederlander v. Nederlander. That decision unanimously affirmed the Order of New York County Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Kaplan.

In this case, the bank was planning to foreclose on the marital residence. Until the wife made her motion, below, the husband had failed to submit a requested application and financial information to the bank. This was months after such was requested by the bank, and months after the wife submitted her information and application to the bank. The appellate court would not speculate whether the husband’s actions, which in effect contributed to the foreclosure, were by design or neglect.

The First Department based the authority to grant the wife her requested relief on Domestic Relations Law §234. That section empowers the court to determine questions of title to property and to “make such direction, between the parties, concerning the possession of property, as in the court’s discretion justice requires having regard to the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties.”


Continue Reading Husband in Divorce Action Ordered to Refinance Home, or Pay Off Half of Mortgage Balance