Recently, we had a former divorce client call us with happy news! She is getting married! Both parties have children from their former relationships, professional practices and assets that they would like to go to their respective children when they pass away. Understandably, our former client was a bit concerned about what might happen should the second marriage not work out. Having experienced a divorce before, she wanted to go into this one with her eyes wide open and wanted a prenuptial agreement that would cover all the bases.
We explained what we would require to either draft and then negotiate a prenuptial agreement or to review an agreement prepared by the other side. She then told us that her fiancée was going to have the agreement drafted, and she wanted us to review it and discuss with her whether to sign “as is” or to ask for some changes.
About a month later she sent us the agreement. This agreement was unlike any we had seen before; in fact, it did not seem to have been drafted by a New York practitioner familiar with matrimonial and estate laws of New York. I pointed this out to her and explained that, in one or two instances, I had no doubt that certain clauses would not be upheld by the court in New York as being void against public policy.
She then told me that her fiancée had drafted the document with the help of a legal services company online. The fiancée believed that the company had an attorney admitted in New York draft the template agreement. While it is entirely possible that such an attorney may have drafted the document that they purchased, it was clear to me that the attorney did not have the years of experience, drafting and litigating these types of contracts that we do. In addition it was also clear that whoever drafted the document had not kept up with legal trends in New York, such as new legislation and recent caselaw.
When you are purchasing legal services, you are buying protection and peace of mind. The problem I see with these types of documents is that they may give the consumer a false sense of protection.
Deborah E. Kaminetzky, Esq.
Kaminetzky Law & Mediation, P.C.
132 Spruce Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516