Marriage is a time to celebrate a couple’s shared love and commitment to starting a new life together. But every couple enters a marriage as two unique individuals with a lifetime of experiences and accomplishments all their own. Our Monmouth County divorce lawyers say it is important to protect those assets with a prenuptial agreement before walking down the aisle. However, even if the conversation proves too difficult to hold beforehand, financial rights and responsibilities can still be clarified after-the-fact with a postnuptial agreement.
Despite what many believe, a prenuptial agreement is not an option reserved solely for the rich. Quite the contrary, and there are several compelling reasons why every couple should consider securing a prenuptial agreement. If one spouse is entering into a marriage with substantial debt, a prenuptial agreement can shield the other spouse from liability. Prenuptial agreements also are valuable when a couple brings to their new marriage children from a previous relationship. In the event of a death, a surviving spouse can lay claim to the bulk of an estate without being legally obligated to provide for his or her stepchildren, if a prenuptial agreement is not in place.
Perhaps no reason for entering into a prenuptial agreement is more important; however, than the simplification of issues to be decided in the event of a divorce. No couple likes to entertain the possibility that their impending marriage will end badly, but the reality is that – for many – it will. A well-drafted prenuptial agreement will specify the division of property, the allocation of debts and whether or not spousal support will be paid from one spouse to another. Without a prenuptial agreement these issues will often be left to a court to decide, and can lead to outcomes that leave both spouses dissatisfied.
For couples who have already married it is never too late to protect their assets. A postnuptial agreement can confer many of the same rights and obligations as a prenuptial agreement. Both parties should be represented, Monmouth County divorce lawyers say, and prepared to identify all personal property accumulated since their marriage as well as personal property acquired beforehand.
New Jersey prenuptial agreements – pursuant to The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) – must be memorialized in writing and signed by both spouses. Additionally, the prenuptial agreement must contain a statement of assets that represents a fair and reasonable disclosure of both spouses’ financial information. If one spouse has retained a lawyer and another has not, the unrepresented spouse must also submit a statement indicating that he or she entered into the agreement freely, knowingly and voluntarily.
In the eyes of the law, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are legally binding contracts. Accordingly, they are exceedingly difficult – though not impossible – to void. When a spouse chooses to contest the terms of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in New Jersey, because of the strict requirements of the UPAA, he or she must establish primarily that the agreement was premised on false or incomplete financial disclosure or was unconscionable. A spouse can make such a showing by demonstrating that the agreement was premised on false or incomplete financial disclosure or that he or she would be left without reasonable support, would be forced to endure a vastly lower standard of living than he or she enjoyed before the marriage, or would be forced to rely upon public assistance if the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement was to be enforced.
At Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C., our Monmouth County divorce lawyers understand the importance of protecting assets and clarifying obligations in the unlikely event that a marriage will end in divorce. We draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that withstand any challenge, should one ever arise, all while remaining sensitive to the unique needs of our clients. Call us today at (732) 493-9400, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at our offices in Eatontown, New Jersey, where we serve clients in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Mercer County and the towns of Colts Neck, Rumson, Deal, Monmouth Beach, Little Silver and Holmdel.