Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are written contracts between spouses that provide additional security and lessen potential disputes during divorce. Such agreements are designed to resolve the division of property and asset issues.

What Are Prenuptial Agreements?

Prenuptial, or premarital agreements, are written contracts between a couple before marrying that detail provisions regarding rights and the division of certain items in the event of a divorce. Both parties must sign periodic agreements before the wedding and become effective on the wedding date. In New Jersey, couples entering marriage or civil union are eligible to enter prenuptial agreements.

State law also requires that each spouse be granted the right to consult with a lawyer before agreeing to and signing a prenuptial agreement, though either spouse can waive this right.

What Items Are Commonly Addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements can be helpful for asset and property division in the event of a divorce and extremely valuable for couples entering marriage with significant personal property and assets. Prenuptial agreements can prevent lengthy disagreements and legal battles over asset and property division during divorce proceedings. Commonly addressed items in a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Asset division
  • Classification of separate or marital property
  • Death benefits
  • Establishment of wills and trusts
  • Manner of agreement interpretation
  • Property division
  • Any other related items

Prenuptial agreements may only include arrangements for financial and asset-related concerns, not child support or custody division. Changes to or revocation of a prenuptial agreement during the marriage can only be made in writing and agreed to and signed by both spouses.

At Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC, our New Jersey family law lawyers understand the complexities of creating prenuptial agreements and provide our clients with sound legal guidance to protect their assets, rights, and best interests.

What Are Postnuptial Agreements?

Postnuptial agreements, often called mid-marriage agreements, are created during marriage to safeguard acquired assets. Postnuptial agreements are designed to pre-plan the division of assets and debts should the couple separate or divorce. Common reasons couples seek postnuptial agreements include:

  • Both spouses wish to define their financial relationship without a prenuptial agreement.
  • Significant changes to one spouse’s financial situation include acquiring a large inheritance, job promotion, or investments.
  • Altering the terms of a prenuptial agreement.
  • Avoiding the uncertainty of not having a plan in the event of a separation.
  • Establishing plans to distribute their assets in the event of a divorce.
  • Financial instability in the marriage.
  • Securing financial support for children of previous marriages.
  • Updating the prenuptial agreement after a lengthy time period.
  • Any other qualifying concern.

New Jersey has specific guidelines that must be followed when creating postnuptial agreements to ensure the document’s validity. The courts cannot enforce invalid documents. To be legally valid, there must be:

  • Fair and equitable terms.
  • Full disclosure of finances and assets by both parties before signing.
  • Independent legal representation for each spouse or a written waiver of rights.
  • No coercion or duress on each spouse to sign.
  • Reasonable amount of time for both spouses to reach an informed decision regarding signing.

When Are Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements Unenforceable?

In New Jersey, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may be unenforceable if the spouse challenging the agreement can prove the document is unjust or signed the agreement unwillingly. Complete honesty is crucial when crafting these agreements, as both can also be unenforceable if the entire disclosure of earnings, assets, property, or financial obligations was not revealed before signing or the spouse did not seek nor waive the right to legal counsel before signing the agreement.

Like in divorce, neither party is supposed to hide assets or debts and can face severe consequences if it is later revealed that purposeful asset hiding occurred during negotiations.

Do Common Law Spouses Qualify for Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements?

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in New Jersey do not apply to common-law marriages. New Jersey eliminated common-law marriage in 1939. However, the state recognizes legal cohabitation agreements to provide unmarried couples with similar protection and benefits of a legal marriage. Governed and enforceable under general contract law, cohabitation agreements generally provide for the division of assets and property and partner support in case of a separation.

New Jersey Family Law Lawyers at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC Provide Clients With Legal Guidance on Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

If you need help with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, contact our New Jersey family law lawyers at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC. We can answer your questions and provide sound legal guidance. Call 732-494-6099 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Metuchen, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Somerset County.