The divorce of figure skater Johnny Weir and husband Victor Voronov made headlines last month as the first high profile same-sex divorce in New Jersey since the state’s legalization of gay marriage in 2013. However, the celebrity split made news again last week when it was reported that Weir and Voronov may be making attempts to mend their relationship and reunite with the help of certain legal agreements that outline unacceptable behaviors on the part of both parties.
While some news outlets are calling this agreement a “postnuptial agreement,” the correct term for the type of document Weir and Voronov are allegedly contemplating is called a reconciliation agreement. In New Jersey, a reconciliation agreement is an agreement between spouses made during the marriage to protect individual assets and other rights in the event of a divorce. A reconciliation agreement differs from a postnuptial agreement in that a reconciliation agreement is made after the marital relationship has deteriorated to the brink of an indefinite separation or a suit for divorce. [In contrast, a postnuptial agreement is an agreement between spouses made during the marriage to protect individual assets and other rights; postnuptial agreements are often put in place if there is a significant change in income or assets on the part of one spouse.]
If you have read the alleged terms of the Weir/Voronov reconciliation agreement, it’s easy to question whether certain items, such as making it off limits to flirt with a non-spouse, could be included in a legal document. In short, they can be. A reconciliation agreement contains a spousal promise or promises to induce the reconciliation. These promises typically address the behaviors that led to the marital breakdown in first place.
Can these types of agreements stand up in court? In general, reconciliation agreements are enforceable provided they are fair at the time they are made and fair at the time that they are sought to be enforced, as outlined in Nicholson v. Nicholson, 199 N.J. Super. 525 (App. Div. 1985). In other words, if Weir and Voronov both freely agree to the terms of the agreement, and believe them to be fair, the document they sign — if they do sign one — could be binding in the event the reconciliation fails to last.
Is a reconciliation agreement for you? Or is a post-nuptial or New Jersey cohabitation agreement (for unmarried couples) more in line with your needs? Please see our relationship agreement resource section for more information.