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Appeals Court Allows Wife To Challenge Attorney’s Fee Waiver in Prenuptial Agreement

divorce attorneys on Long IslandIn a case of first impression, an appeals court sitting in New York County, has allowed a non-monied spouse to bring a challenge to set aside what is a standard clause in most prenuptial agreements where each of the parties to the agreement waives claims to have the other party pay their attorney’s fee. This Appellate Division (the appeals court) decision overruled a Supreme Court decision which had prevented the wife from bringing an application to have her husband pay her attorneys’ fees.

Attorneys’ Fees Are A Trial Issue

The Appellate Court stated in its decision, “in order to ensure a level playing field, the question of the validity of the counsel fee provision for the non-child related issues in the parties’ agreement should be considered at trial.” The Appellate Court went on to state, “the great disparity between the parties’ finances, plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees beyond those incurred for child related issues is an issue appropriate to leave for trial.”

In her suit, the wife challenged the spousal maintenance provisions of the prenuptial agreement, wherein she alleged those provisions were “presently unconscionable in terms of plaintiff’s current needs, expenses and income.” The lower court judge had said the issue of spousal maintenance could be considered at trial but the attorney’s fees issue for litigating the case were precluded by a waiver clause in the prenuptial agreement.

Pressured Into Signing the Agreement?

The Appeals Court ruling rejected the wife’s claims she had been pressured into signing the prenuptial agreement. The court stated, “the record is clear that this agreement was negotiated over approximately four weeks.”

Conclusion

Prenuptial agreements involve many significant terms. Those entering into prenuptial agreements should hire experienced attorneys to represent them and should spend a reasonable amount of time negotiating the agreement prior to the time of the marriage.divorce attorney on Long Island

Father Violated a Custody Order, Must Pay Two-thirds of the Mother’s Legal Fees

father-150x1501A mother brought an application for attorney’s fees. She claimed the children’s father willfully violated a custody order.

Judge Duggan, sitting in the Family Court of Albany County, found that the father notified the mother of his intention to return the children to the mother nine days late, after he took a vacation with them. The mother rejected the father’s request. The father thereafter refused to allow the mother to see the children. The court found that the father now had to pay both his attorney’s fees and two-thirds of the mother’s attorneys fees for his violation of the custody order. The father argued to the court that his violation of the custody order was a minor one. Nonetheless, the court found that he did violate the order and was on notice from the mother that, if the child was not returned at the appropriate time, she would take legal action to enforce the custody order. In the end, the court decided that the father’s actions involved willfulness and that he should pay a majority of the mother’s attorneys fees.

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Nassau and Suffolk County Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

We represent fathers! We have been doing this for more than thirty years. We litigate all aspects ofdivorce, including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony) and equitable distribution of property. We also represent fathers with regard to proceedings in family court. We litigate issues involving paternity, downward modifications of child support, relocation problems,parental alienation cases and issues involving parental alienation syndrome. We also negotiateseparation agreements for our clients. Feel free to call us for a free consultation.

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