Answering Your Questions About Prenuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace for couples planning to wed. And why not? Prenups, also called premarital agreements, are a smart way to protect not only your premarital “self” but also your marriage down the road. A prenup can give both of you peace of mind. So, what do you need to know before you get one?
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the value of prenups — and the rules governing prenuptial agreements in New Jersey.
All of my property was bought before we got engaged, so why do I need a prenuptial agreement?
The laws in New Jersey definitely distinguish between premarital and marital property, with much premarital property having the presumption that it will not be subject to equitable (or fair) distribution in a divorce. But, not all property is that cut and dried. Perhaps you purchased a home prior to your engagement. Even though that house is premarital, your soon-to-be spouse may have a claim to some of the increase in property value in the home during your marriage. Also, your spouse may be entitled to be compensated for any improvements to the house that they financed or perhaps did themselves. Remember that property and its value can change, and these changes can trigger division of that property.
We don’t have any property. Why should we get a prenup?
Prenuptial agreements do not only cover property, they cover other items, too. Perhaps your fiancé has a large amount of credit card debt that you do not want to shoulder once you are married. Listing out and itemizing specific debts and attaching the list to the prenup ensures that your debts are kept separately and that no marital money will be used to pay off those debts. Also, prenups can include other items such as payment of alimony, division of paychecks, how monthly expenses are shared, how bank accounts are handled and how retirement assets are addressed when the time comes. However, it is important to note that premarital agreements cannot contain terms regarding child custody, parenting time or child support. This is against New Jersey statute.
It’s not romantic to ask for a prenup…isn’t that just predicting divorce?
On the contrary, many couples find it a great relief to get these items out of the way early on in their engagement, so that they can focus on the fun and romance of their upcoming nuptials. And, while it may not be the most romantic conversation you have with your intended, it is wise to get these terms down in writing, so that you can avoid arguments that many other couples have when they are already married. Money problems are still one of the most common reasons that couples split up, today. Why not avoid those issues and put out those fires now, rather than letting them fester and, eventually erode your marriage? Build a strong foundation with a good prenuptial agreement that you can both feel comfortable with.
We want to do it ourselves and not use a lawyer for our prenup. Is this allowed?
While it is technically permitted, this is not a good idea. The law in New Jersey specifically states that in order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, both parties must have had the opportunity to receive independent legal advice and counsel. Skipping this step can lead to problems down the line, if you find yourself in court attempting to defend the prenup in the event that your spouse claims they didn’t understand the document or was not afforded the opportunity to get legal advice. The drafting and reviewing of premarital agreements is not that costly and, in the end, can certainly save you money in court and legal fees, if there is any question about either of your intent when you signed it.
If you would like further information regarding premarital agreements or any other area of family law, please contact us to schedule your confidential consultation with one of our qualified and compassionate attorneys. Secure your future. Take the first step today: 888-888-0919.
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