Your Wedding Day: Are You Ready For The Legal Changes Marriage Brings?

Couple holding hands

Throughout the month of May, we will be posting a special blog series on marriage-related legal issues, including prenuptial agreements, reconciliation agreements, and more. Please check back each week for tips and advice that can help you boost your marital savvy!

With the spring and summer New Jersey wedding season about to begin, many engaged couples are spending the next few weeks and months busily preparing for the big day. If you’re getting married anytime soon, in addition to things like finalizing invitation lists and reception menus, you may be wondering what you should be doing right now to get ready for the realities of marriage, including the legal changes that take place after you both say “I do.”

What do you need to know? Beyond being a personal and emotional bond between spouses, marriage in New Jersey is a legally binding contract. When you get married, you not only accept rights and benefits but also take on a number of legal and financial obligations.

These include responsibilities such as:

– providing financial support for children born to you and your spouse;

– liability for certain kinds of family expenses and debts, including joint credit card debt and mortgages;

– sharing income and property acquired during the marriage, potentially including houses, cars, business assets, stock portfolios, and retirement plans;

– and providing (or receiving) financial support for your spouse, in the event of a divorce.

If you and your fiancé(e) have not done so already, taking the time to go through this list can be helpful. What are your initial reactions? Do you know the state of your fiancé’s finances? What are his or her spending habits and/or credit history? Do you have similar income levels? Will one of you stay home to care for any children you may have? What will happen if one you becomes ill and can no longer work?

These may not sound like the typical questions that run through a bride-to-be or groom-to-be’s head right before their wedding day, but asking these kinds of questions…and getting answers to them…just might be the secret to a long lasting marriage. One way we in the world of family law help couples have these kinds of conversations is through the process of setting up a prenuptial agreement.

A “prenup” is simply a document outlining how most financial issues between a couple are to be decided in the event of a divorce. Some couples call it “marriage insurance.” In the event of a divorce, a New Jersey prenuptial agreement generally protects your premarital assets and can ensure that your property is deemed exempt from New Jersey’s equitable distribution laws. A prenup can also outline a variety of other considerations, explain rights and obligations of each person in the event of divorce.

Is having a prenup put in place the right choice for you? We encourage to read our many resources on the topic. Please contact us for any specific questions you may have — and please accept our congratulations on your wedding!

Further reading:
5 People Who Need a Prenuptial Agreement
New Laws Governing New Jersey Prenuptial Agreements
5 Reasons You Need a Prenuptial Agreement
How to Bring Romance into a Prenuptial Agreement