Prenuptial Agreements

In 1988 New Jersey enacted the Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act which states what can be included in what is commonly called a prenuptial agreement, or prenup, and what is required to enforce it, if necessary. Generally, parties can make an agreement specifying what happens to their property if they divorce and when they die. They can also specify how much, if any, spousal support will be paid, and how household finances will be handled. They cannot make an enforceable agreement that adversely affects the right of a child to support. A prenup must be signed by both parties and include a statement of assets of both parties. It is enforceable if there has been full disclosure by both parties, they have been represented by counsel or had the opportunity to retain counsel, and it was fair and equitable at the time the agreement was made.

Why is a prenup necessary?

Some folks feel that even mentioning a prenup kills the romance of an upcoming wedding. However, it often makes sense, particularly when one or both parties has been divorced. For older couples, they can make their financial arrangements to specify what happens when they die. One client in the throes of negotiating a prenup said it best, “This is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, but I’d rather do it now when I’m madly in love with her than if we get divorced and I hate her.”

 

What if my fiance(e) won’t agree to a prenup?

If one of the parties refuses to enter into a prenup, there are two alternatives for the party who wants one: (1) not go through with the wedding, or (2) have an accountant or financial adviser prepare a current statement of assets and income so there is clarity on what assets are premarital and therefore not subject to equitable distribution in case of a divorce, and what income may be available for spousal support. The second alternative does not provide the protection of a prenup, but is better than “Oh, we’ll figure it out if we ever get divorced.”

We are experienced in the negotiation and preparation of prenuptial agreements, including matters in which one of the parties refused to enter into one, and in a case where one of the parties did not want to disclose assets and income. We are aware of the requirements to make a prenup fair and equitable, and therefore enforceable.