Monthly Archives: January 2019
Misconceptions swirl around what premarital agreements, often referred to as “prenups,” are – and what they lead to. Partly, that is because they are often the subject of media stories about celebrities. (Justin Bieber is only the most recent – and that was because he was one of the few mega-celebrities not to have one.) It may also be partly because, if prenups do make media headlines, it is generally because a couple is getting divorced.
A Prudent Plan
But premarital agreements are in fact a prudent way to set forth what a couple has agreed upon regarding their assets. Marriage assets in today’s world are not the relatively simple affairs they were 50 years ago. Both partners may have worked and made considerable assets prior to the marriage, which didn’t use to be the case. Spouses may have children or other dependents from previous unions. Commingling of assets in a marriage can be complicated as a result of these contemporary trends.
While prenups can be used in the event of a divorce, they are used for other reasons as well. If one spouse dies unexpectedly, for example, and has children, a prenup can make clear that person’s plans for their descendants, their spouses, and any former partners vis-à-vis their assets. A prenup can be used as the foundation of an estate plan as well.
The bottom line is this: any lack of a plan for assets carries some risk, either that assets will not be disposed of as their owner would have wished or that there will be conflict involved. Conflict and ill feeling can carry over into other family members and last for generations if not handled properly. Developing a plan minimizes both risks.
Here are three facts to know about prenups.
1. They do not lead to divorce.
While prenups are often associated in media stories with divorce, the fact remains that the greater number are not used in divorces. More than 85% of mental health professionals believe they have no impact upon divorces. Prenups are more akin to wills – a plan setting forth the disposition and division of assets.
2. They need to be fair.
Most jurisdictions require both parties in a prenup to disclose their assets, so they need to be transparent and fair. Both partners generally bring their own attorneys to a prenup. In the event of a precipitating event, such as a divorce or death, a judge may invalid a premarital agreement that seems unfair.
3. They can include any type of asset.
People can include any type of asset in a prenup. Real estate, other property, and investments are standard, but a couple can also decide to include anything important to them, such as pets, or items that could have a financial impact, such as debt.
If You Need a Divorce Lawyer in New York or New Jersey
The Rockland County & Bergen County divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been assisting clients with solutions in New York and New Jersey for more than four decades.
If negotiation and settlement are not working, we will fight for your rights via litigation.
We are experts in division of marital assets, child custody, child support, visitation rights, alimony and spousal support, parental relocation, modification after divorce, and conservatorships.
- Fletcher, Christine. 10 Things You Need to Know About Prenups. Forbes. September 18, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinefletcher/2018/09/18/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-prenups/#56b773f962ba.
- Solomon, Kristine. 8 myths about prenups you should stop believing. Business Insider. October 15, 2018. https://www.businessinsider.com/prenup-myths-you-should-stop-believing-2018-10.
Rockland County & Bergen County divorce lawyer Paul Goldhamer, Esq. is a co-founding partner at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. When not practicing family law in NY & NJ, Mr. Goldhamer maintains a busy schedule with supporting charities, giving lectures, and appearing on radio & TV. Paul was named a “Super Lawyer” by Superlawyers.com in 2014.
From Paul Goldhamer, Esq.:
If you have a towing benefit from your credit card company, it usually is limited to a 10 mile tow. If you are off road by more than 10 feet (not from skidding) most credit card companies will not cover any portion of the tow.
If you call for a tow truck, most tows are covered by your automobile insurance policy. If a tow company uses their winch to pull you out, the charge will be higher.
The reimbursement from your insurance company will also be higher as a result of the fact that the tow truck needed to use a winch. But you must tell them; make sure it is written on the tow bill.
Can spouses sue each other for personal injury? After all, one spouse may do things that are unsafe to the other, either intentionally or unwittingly.
At one point in history, spouses were not legally allowed to sue each other for personal injury, due to a general principle called “interspousal immunity.” Why? Well, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a married couple was legally considered one entity. A wife was not legally separate from a husband. Interspousal immunity essentially meant that one part of a legal entity could not sue another part.
In addition, courts felt that spouses suing each other destroyed the harmony of a family.
What Constitutes “Personal Injury”?
Personal injury, under the law, is an injury to someone caused by another party’s negligence. To be negligent, the party must have had a duty of care (a responsibility to make something safe), to have known that something was not safe, have had sufficient time to rectify the situation, and have not rectified it or acted recklessly. Personal injuries can be caused by situations as disparate as the purchase of unsafe holiday toys, improper maintenance of chemicals in the home, and car accidents, to name just three examples.
Spouses Can Sue Each Other for Personal Injury, With Some Exceptions
However, beginning with women’s right to vote in the early twentieth century and progressing through the feminist movement that began in the 1970s, this concept was increasingly struck down. Women were increasingly given rights and legal standing. As a result, a married couple is now increasingly considered two separate people with rights for many legal purposes.
The laws on interspousal immunity evolved accordingly. Spouses won the right to sue each other for intentionally inflicting damage first, in general, and then won the right to sue for negligent action. In most jurisdictions, they now have both.
So the answer to the question “can you sue your spouse for personal injury?” is yes in many states, with some exceptions.
One exception in some states is the right to sue a spouse who has caused the other spouse an injury in an automobile accident. Insurance companies are concerned about the possibility of collusion, where spouses may plan together to submit a false accident claim to an insurance company.
Some states, though, will allow spouses to purchase supplemental insurance that allows for the future possibility of bringing a personal injury lawsuit in the case of a car accident, provided that the accident was caused by a spouse’s negligence.
Some home insurance policies also do not allow one spouse to sue another, for similar reasons.
Because the law on whether one spouse can sue another is somewhat complex, it is prudent to consult an attorney about the laws and ramifications in your state. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on laws concerning spousal immunity and on any supplements allowed in your state of residence.
If You Need a New York or New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer
The seasoned personal injury attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been handling all matters pertaining to personal injury in New York and New Jersey, including car accidents, for more than four decades.
We will explain your rights and possible scenarios thoroughly. We are committed to long-lasting, fair, and reliable solutions that benefit you. All initial personal injury law consultations are complimentary. Call us today toll free at (800) 711-5258.
- Property Casualty 360, 10 red flags that could signal a fraudulent Auto claim, https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2016/03/16/10-red-flags-that-could-signal-a-fraudulent-auto-c/?slreturn=20190009170708
- Cornell Law School, Spousal Immunity, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/spousal_immunity