The Role of Prenups in a New Jersey Divorce

Many people have heard stories about prenuptial agreements not always holding up in court. The reality is that courts will try to uphold private contracts in a New Jersey divorce, provided they were entered into with full knowledge and no coercion.

Historically, judges were suspicious of prenups because they were often used by the more powerful spouse to force the other spouse to agree to unfair terms. But today, prenups are used more routinely and looked at more favorably – when properly entered into.

To be enforced, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and include a full disclosure of all assets and liabilities of both parties. In addition, each party is required to retain their own lawyer to separately represent their individual interests.

During a divorce, the burden is on the spouse challenging the validity of the prenup to show there was coercion in the creation of the agreement. Whether or not there was coercion, a party can challenge portions of the prenup as unconscionable.

Generally, the prenup is looked at as a regular private contract entered into voluntarily by two adults. There are areas that cannot be agreed to via a prenup. For example, parents cannot make agreements about custody of the children or parenting time via a prenuptial agreement.

Prenups are most commonly used to protect assets acquired before the marriage, and to set forth how certain properties obtained during the marriage would be distributed. They many times also address the issue of alimony.

If you are considering a prenup, or wondering if yours will hold up in a divorce, consult with attorneys experienced in handling New Jersey divorce issues. Used for the right purposes, prenups can often reduce time and costs of litigation in the event of divorce.

Divorce Lawyer – NJ Process for High Asset Divorce

New Jersey divorce law provides that all marital property shall be distributed equitably. But before a fair distribution can be agreed to, first the marital property and the separate property needs to be determined and then the property must be valued. Someone with many assets and/or complex financial holdings should consult an experienced divorce lawyer. NJ statutes, case law and prenuptial agreements will need to be reviewed to make sure your rights are fully protected.

There are several areas where an experienced attorney can guide you through the process. These include:

(1)               If you or your spouse own a business – Businesses can be complex to appraise accurately, as there are numerous accounting procedures that can be difficult to wade through. Specialized experts called forensic accountants and actuarial experts can be utilized to provide a valuation on the business. Sometimes each party will each get their own appraisal with the two values to be used to ultimately agree on a fair value.

(2)               Retirement Assets (401ks, IRAs, pensions) – In general, a QDRO will be performed to value that portion of retirement assets that were accumulated during the marriage (from the date of marriage to the date of the divorce filing).

(3)               Real estate holdings – In addition to the primary residence, there may be vacation homes, commercial property or investment property. First, it must be determined if any portion of the property can be considered separate from marital property. Then the property must be valued, and a decision made about whether to keep it or sell it.

(4)               Bonuses and Stock Options – There are accounting methods to help determine which portion of this type of compensation will be considered marital property subject to distribution.

It will take some time to properly value all of the holdings for high net worth couples. It’s important that you seek the advice of lawyers who specialize in New Jersey divorce law. They can make you aware of options for valuing and selling property to help ensure an equitable distribution.

3 Tips Regarding an NJ Uncontested Divorce

When it comes to getting an uncontested divorce, many people believe that it is as simple as someone filing, waiting a short period of time, receiving your divorce decree, and then it is all over. While an New Jersey uncontested divorce is usually easier to obtain than a contested one, it does not mean that it is necessarily a walk in the park.
Here are three important tips that those seeking an uncontested divorce in New Jersey should keep in mind, including:

  • Be patient. A divorce that is uncontested usually means that it will not take you as long to reach a final resolution. But that doesn’t mean it is going to happen overnight. There is still a legal process that needs to be followed and worked through.
  • You must still identify grounds for divorce. Contrary to popular belief, you still need to have “grounds” for an uncontested divorce. Even with both parties agreeing to dissolve the relationship, you will need to qualify for one of the legal grounds for getting a divorce, which, for uncontested matters, generally includes irreconcilable differences or 18 months of physical separation.
  • Disputed issues may exist. Even with both parties agreeing to an uncontested divorce, there are still legal issues that will need to be sorted out. Just about every couple has to decide the following issues: alimony, child custody, visitation, child support, and division of assets. .

If you decide to pursue an NJ uncontested divorce , you should work with a highly qualified family law attorney. By doing so, you are ensuring your case will be handled in a professional and expedient manner. At Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, our practice is dedicated to providing New Jersey legal support for divorce cases.

Division of Assets in New Jersey Divorce Law

New Jersey divorce law follows a theory of equitable distribution when dividing up marital assets. It’s important to understand that equitable does not necessarily mean equal, as in 50-50. Once all assets are valued, the court will strive for a “fair, but not necessarily equal, division” of marital property.

The law views marriage as a shared enterprise, and deems property acquired by either spouse during the marriage to be jointly owned.  Generally, property owned prior to the marriage, and third party gifts and inheritance received during the marriage, are exempt from marital property (unless the property has been since transferred into joint ownership).  The burden is the party wanting to exempt an item to show exempt status.

Those are the theories, but in practice many grey areas arise. In the case of certain property previously owned by one person and that remains solely in their name – such as the house or retirement funds – it can be shown that the other spouse is entitled to a fair share of the appreciation value during the marriage.

The court will examine several factors, including: (1) the length of marriage; (2) the standard of living during the marriage; (3) the economic circumstances of each party; (4) the age and health of the parties at divorce.

While each item’s history and use is relevant, so can be the parties’ current ages and relative economic positions.  At the Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, each of our attorneys is experienced) in New Jersey divorce law. We know how the courts interpret the equitable distribution statute and can help you receive your fair share of assets to secure your future.