Although prenuptial agreements may seem unromantic, more and more couples are deciding that they are a sensible step in protecting the rights of each spouse if the marriage takes an unexpected turn. If you are planning a wedding in New Jersey, this is the time to contact the accomplished family lawyers of Bozanian McGregor LLC in Paramus to discuss whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (“prenup”) is a legally binding contract between two individuals who are about to marry. It details the terms and conditions that will govern the division of assets, spousal support, and various financial aspects in the event of divorce, separation, or the death of one of the spouses.
Issues Prenuptial Agreements Address
A prenup can help distinguish separate and marital property, including real estate, collectibles, and retirement assets. For example, in a couple, once married, decides to live in a home that one spouse acquired before the marriage, their prenuptial agreement can specify that the dwelling is separate property, belonging only to its original owner. This would mean that if the couple divorces, the home would be returned to the spouse who brought it to the marriage. Having this stated before the marriage begins may prevent contentious litigation in the future.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
A prenuptial agreement can also state whether one party will provide spousal support to the other in case of a divorce, and specify the amount and duration of such support. You should be aware, however, that New Jersey courts are usually reluctant to enforce a prenup that waives a spouse’s right to all spousal support, particularly if such an action will leave that individual unable to manage.
Protection of Children From Previous Marriages
If one or both partners have children from previous marriages, a prenup can ensure that the financial well-being of those children is safeguarded and that their inheritance from their parents is assured.
Payment of Debts
Although debts accrued during a marriage are generally considered shared marital property, it is possible to agree in a prenup that if either party accumulates substantial debt or one party has significantly more debt than the other, only the individual borrower will be responsible for repayment.
Asset protection can be especially important for you if you have substantial inherited or accumulated assets before marriage. Assets may include real estate, investments, business interests, and other valuables. A prenup can ensure that these assets will remain your separate property if you divorce.
You may feel that this declaration is important, especially if there is a significant imbalance in the resources of each individual before marriage. You may be more than willing to provide for your spouse with generous support if the marriage fails but feel that it is only fair that your separate finances remain yours alone.
A prenup can also make sure that if one party owns a business or professional practice before the marriage, that spouse can retain that business as separate property if the couple divorces.
Without such a document, the business or practice could be considered marital property owned by both parties. Such an arrangement would likely give rise to disputes about how to run the company or when to sell the enterprise, disputes that the prenup will prevent.
Enforcement of Prenuptial Agreements in New Jersey
Like other legal documents, prenups are enforceable. Nonetheless, a prenup may be invalidated by New Jersey courts if:
- Either party fails to disclose or attempts to conceal assets
- The agreement was signed under duress or coercion
- The prenuptial agreement favors one spouse unfairly (e.g. by leaving the other spouse destitute)
To make certain that your prenuptial agreement is valid, it is essential to have it prepared by a thoughtful family law attorney. Each party should have their lawyer review the document to ensure that the individual interests are properly served.
Modifications of Prenuptial Agreements
Circumstances are constantly changing so it stands to reason that some prenuptial agreements will have to be modified during the marriage. These modifications must be made in writing and must meet the same legal requirements as the original agreement.
The Positive Impact of Prenuptial Agreements
While the subject of prenuptial agreements may be a touchy one, discussing financial matters before taking marital vows can be extremely beneficial. For one thing, the couple is forced to face uncomfortable issues head-on and to “come clean” with any lingering worries or concerns relative to their finances, their shared home, their businesses, their personal property, and their children (if any) from prior marriages. For another, once they can agree, they have established a strong foundation for their union based on honesty and trust.
Contact Our Experienced Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys Today
At Bozanian McGregor, our lawyers have the in-depth knowledge and well-honed skills to draft a customized prenuptial agreement to your precise specifications. We are prepared to answer all of your questions and quell all of your doubts. Above all, we are dedicated to making you both comfortable with your decision. Contact us now to discuss the best options for you and your soon-to-be spouse in a supportive environment.