Premarital agreements, known in other states as prenuptial agreements, are contracts between prospective spouses that define their rights and responsibilities in the event of a divorce. A premarital agreement covers a wide range of topics, including alimony, property division and ownership rights to each other's estates or life insurance policies. It may also include specific provisions in the event of a spouse's death, and whether certain properties may be sold, exchanged, transferred, etc. New Jersey law gives spouses a great deal of latitude in deciding what terms to include, but they do prohibit issues related to custody and child support. These issues must be decided at the time of the divorce, since a child's needs and wants change over time. Parents are encouraged to work out these terms through non-litigation methods such as divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. If the parents cannot come to an agreement the court will make a determination based on the child's best interests.
Having a premarital agreement in place sounds like a sensible plan, but many individuals are reluctant to sign, or bring up the idea of a premarital agreement with their prospective spouse. For one thing, the idea of bringing up a contractual agreement when you are about to enter into a loving union can seem rather cold. The other person may also take it as a personal attack, as if you don't trust them to be fair and sensible if things don't work out. In fact, just the idea of things possibly not working out is not something most people want to consider when they're deeply in love and planning their dream wedding.
There are, however, some very good reasons for working out a premarital agreement. Instead of focusing on the negatives, try looking it as a test of your strength and cooperation as a couple. After all, the day to day routine of a marriage requires discussion, compromise and sacrifice; negotiating a premarital agreement is a great way to test these skills. Another positive aspect that's often ignored is that a premarital agreement can help you divide your assets and liabilities in the fairest way possible. For example, a premarital agreement can ensure that you receive the financial support and properties that you need in order to move on with your new life as soon as possible. It also helps that you're making these decisions with a clear head, which is difficult to do at the onset of a divorce.
Ultimately, it's up to each couple to decide whether or not a premarital agreement is right for
them. However, it's important to make an informed decision after speaking with an experienced family law attorney. For answers to all your questions concerning premarital agreements, please schedule a free initial consultation with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.. If you decide to proceed with a premarital agreement, our attorneys can help you draft a through and equitable agreement that protects both of your interests.