The concept concept of "Do-It-Yourself", better known as "DIY", applies to a lot more than just home and gardening projects these days, thanks to a wide array of technological advances. In particular, internet access through PCs and mobile devices have made it possible for people to complete many functions with just the click of a button or touchscreen. These functions include basic legal actions, such as paying parking tickets or downloading court forms. If an action can't be completely through a form, you can still find online resources that will help you draft legal agreements without an attorney.
While the DIY method may be suitable for straightforward contracts like lease agreements, prenups should involve some level of assistance from an experienced family lat attorney. Because a prenuptial agreement addresses critical issues like property division and alimony, the courts will scrutinize each agreement closely to ensure that it meets state requirements. The courts may also question whether the agreement is conscionable based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the value of the marital assets, and each spouse's contributions towards acquiring and/or maintaining those assets.
An important factor in determining the conscionability of a prenup is the presence of lawyers, at least for the sake of providing advice prior to signing. The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which governs the law of prenuptial agreements in New Jersey, doesn't require that each party retain an attorney. However, not doing so is a red flag to a judge if one party contests the agreement during the divorce
proceedings. Another red flag is when the agreement is signed right before the wedding date. There are no laws governing how far ahead of the marriage date a prenup needs to be signed, but agreements finalized just days before the wedding may be indicative of one partner being pressured into signing. Each party should seek separate attorneys, by the way; independent counsel is the most effective way to prove that neither party was coerced or misled. As for drafting the agreement itself, it's highly recommended that you leave that up to your attorney. An experienced, reputable attorney will ask you for an outline of the terms that both you and your partner have agreed on. After all, drafting a proposed agreement is pointless if both of you haven't agreed on all the essential issues.
If you and your soon-to-be spouse are considering a prenup, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our attorneys include Vincent C. DeLuca, who has been certified as a matrimonial law attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The matrimonial law certification is only given to attorneys who are able to demonstrate substantial levels of education, knowledge and trial experience. This higher level of experience is critical to drafting a legally binding agreement that will protect your interests in the event of a divorce. Mr. DeLuca will be happy to advise you of your prenup rights and legal options during a free initial consultation.