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Prenuptial Agreements In A New Jersey Divorce

Prior to a couple getting married, one legal tool that is commonly used in the event of a potential divorce filing is a Prenuptial Agreement. A Prenuptial Agreement is also referred to as a Premarital Agreement and it is designed to define the rights and obligations of each party before the marriage in the event of an eventual divorce. This agreement can be permanent or it can last until a certain date after which it is no longer in effect. For example, if a couple decides that they want to be married for a specific amount of time to make sure it is going to work out and they would like to have an agreement in case it does not—say five years—then the Prenuptial Agreement will state that the terms are in effect for five years after which there is no longer a Prenuptial Agreement or the terms are altered in a specific way.

Why Should I Get A Prenuptial Agreement In Monmouth County

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People entering into a marriage can have numerous reasons to want a Prenuptial Agreement. If one person is far wealthier than the prospective husband or wife, it makes sense to protect his or her assets in case the marriage fails by requiring a Prenuptial Agreement before the marriage. Regardless of the emotional feelings that led the couple to get married, the fact is that a vast number of marriages end in divorce and if the marriage does not work, it is wise for the member of the couple with more assets to protect those assets.

If one member of the couple has a far higher paying job than the other, it is also smart to consider a Prenuptial Agreement. While it might seem to be a forecast for the negative of “just in case,” it is not an insult to the other person nor is it an accusation if the member of the couple who has a higher paying job requests that there be an agreement before the marriage in regards to how much the other spouse is entitled to—if anything—in the event of divorce.

When remarrying, a Prenuptial Agreement can be useful. When there are financial obligations stemming from the first marriage or other legal issues that might be hindered if there are other marriages and divorces, it is not just the individual's finances and property that are being protected, but the finances and property of the previous spouse and perhaps children from that relationship.

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If the new husband or wife carries a hefty debt load, a Prenuptial Agreement can provide protection to avoid being saddled with bills that were accumulated by another person in the event of a divorce. If you own a business or a portion of a business, a Prenuptial Agreement will not only protect you, but it will protect your business partners as well. Business and marriage can create a tangled web if the marriage fails and in spite of New Jersey not being a 50-50 state in which all marital assets are automatically divided evenly, there can still be a vast chunk of the business awarded to the spouse who did not work in the business or contributed a limited amount to it. A Prenuptial Agreement can prevent this from happening.

A Prenuptial Agreement can be used to protect an estate plan. If, for example, there are personal items that are family related and have no connection to the new spouse, these can be part of the divorce settlement potentially if there is no Prenuptial Agreement. Separating items such as these or other pieces of property that you do not want to be part of the new marriage is a sound reason to request a Prenuptial Agreement.

People who are considering quitting their jobs after the marriage—to raise children for example—will want to consider a Prenuptial Agreement. It is a big step to put yourself in the position in which you are being supported by another person and if you quit your job and the marriage fails, a Prenuptial Agreement can provide the support that you were receiving during the marriage after the divorce.

Issues Covered And Not Covered In An Ocean County Prenuptial Agreement

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A Prenuptial Agreement will generally cover certain aspects of the individual's rights and property in the event of a divorce. If there is property owned by one of the individuals prior to the marriage, then the person who owned the property will keep the rights to that property if it is included in the Prenuptial Agreement.

Alimony is financial support provided to an ex-spouse and the amount that would be provided in case of divorce can be agreed to prior to the marriage with a Prenuptial Agreement. A will or a trust can be part of a Prenuptial Agreement. In the event that one of the spouses has a trust fund, it can be written into the Prenuptial Agreement how much of that, if anything, the former spouse will be entitled to if there is a divorce.

Life insurance policies can be part of a Prenuptial Agreement. If one spouse has a large life insurance policy, this can be listed in the Prenuptial Agreement to limit or avoid the new spouse receiving the payout in case the policyholder dies.

Issues that can not be addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement include those regarding children. If there is a marriage and children are involved, it cannot be previously agreed to via Prenuptial Agreement as to how much the ex-spouse will receive for child support and what the custody rights will be. That must be agreed to separately, handled in court or through mediation.

Breaking A Prenuptial Agreement In New Jersey 

When people get married in New Jersey there are instances in which they will enter into a Prenuptial Agreement to provide a list of obligations and rights for each party in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. It can be effective permanently or it can have a date upon which it will expire.

There are many reasons why a couple might enter into a Prenuptial Agreement. For example, one member of the couple is much wealthier than the other and has assets to protect if the marriage fails, a Prenuptial Agreement is a solution to the concerns that the other spouse might be interested in getting married simply for his or her own benefit. If there is a business that one member of the couple owns and is wary of letting the future husband or wife having the potential to take a portion of it if there is a divorce, it can be written into the Prenuptial Agreement that certain assets and properties belonging to each spouse remain with them if the marriage fails. One frequent question asked when a couple has a Prenuptial Agreement and is heading for a divorce is whether or not the agreement can be broken. The answer is yes. In certain circumstances, the Prenuptial Agreement can be broken and a spouse might be entitled to more than what was originally agreed upon.

Reasons To Break A Prenuptial Agreement In New Jersey

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While breaking a Prenuptial Agreement can be difficult, there are instances when it can be done. If the agreement itself was unfair when it was signed, then it might be breakable during the divorce. When entering into the agreement, both sides must be aware of the other's assets and debts. If there was concealment on the part of one of the spouses and the other spouse who is signing the agreement was unaware of what he or she would be surrendering rights to, it could be deemed as fraud and sabotages the agreement. It is possible that the agreement will have language specifically designed to avoid this eventuality and if it is present, it might be hard to have the agreement overturned.

In New Jersey, it is a requirement that each spouse have a separate legal representative when the agreement is being negotiated. The legal representatives must study the agreement to ensure it is fair and if, during the divorce, it is discovered that one side did not have a legal representative it could be grounds to overturn the agreement.

If there has been coercion on the part of one spouse to the other to sign the agreement, then it is possible that it will be overturned. Some spouses use intimidation and threats to convince the other spouse that the agreement must be signed. If this can be shown to have occurred, the agreement may not be valid.

The marital conduct during the union could also be a factor. For example, a part of the agreement was to keep the couple's finances completely separate and this was not adhered to in the purchasing of a property or accumulating debts, then the agreement might be overturned. With one side owning a business and the other contributing in ways that would be considered helpful such as taking care of children or managing the household, it could be argued that the spouse who was the homemaker took part in the business by making it easier for the business-owning spouse to work and not be concerned about other issues. Therefore the homemaking spouse might be eligible for more than the agreement stipulated and this could influence whether a Prenuptial Agreement will be upheld. If the Prenuptial Agreement is considered to be unfair and would leave one spouse poor and destitute, the terms of the agreement can be examined and it might be broken.

With children in the marriage, the children's well-being and care will likely be more important than the maintenance of a Prenuptial Agreement and the terms will be altered for that reason. Changes in a parties situation also can be factored in. If one spouse becomes ill during the marriage and the agreement stated that there would be no alimony in the event of a divorce, the needs of the ill spouse could lead to an overturning of the agreement.

Speak To A New Jersey Divorce Lawyer About A Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial Agreements have received a fair share of negative press due to the connotation that it is a lack of trust on the part of one or both partners for seeking to protect themselves in the event that the marriage does not work. In reality, it is little more than an insurance policy similar to what you would have for your health, home or auto. Marriages sometimes end in divorce and if one or both partners have assets to protect or other reasons to consider a Prenuptial Agreement, it is smart to contact an attorney to discuss it.

Other Resources For A New Jersey Prenuptial Agreement

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If you or a loved one are planning to get married in Monmouth County, Ocean County or anywhere else in New Jersey, speaking to an attorney from the Family Law Firm of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey regarding a Prenuptial Agreement is a wise decision. Call 732-751-4991 today to discuss your case.

Vincent DeLuca, Esq.

As a founding partner at Villani & DeLuca, Vincent DeLuca is one of only a few Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca has helped many clients navigate the delicate details of their own divorce. Mr. DeLuca is also a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Call today at (732) 751-4991 to speak to Mr. DeLuca or one of our experienced NJ Divorce Lawyers.