Prenuptial agreements — also called premarital agreements or prenups — are contracts made between prospective spouses that become effective upon marriage. Prenuptial agreements have gotten a reputation for being a document drafted out of a lack of trust between partners as a safety net in case the marriage does not last and has been viewed as a lack of commitment to the other person. While a prenup will help safeguard assets in the event of a divorce, the contract is drafted to establish rights, obligations, and expectations between parties so that both spouses can enter into the marriage fully-informed and in agreement. Despite its reputation, a premarital agreement can actually help a marriage be more successful. In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons couples may consider a prenuptial agreement and what it includes.

New Jersey Premarital Agreements

New Jersey prenuptial agreements can address a number of issues including each spouse’s rights, obligations, and expectations within the marriage and afterward — in the event of death or divorce. Prenups must include a statement of assets from both parties and must be signed by both spouses. This is to ensure transparency and avoid misleading the other party. Some of the topics that can be agreed on include:

Rights and obligations of property – rights to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, assign, dispose of, or manage and how that property should be handled in the event of divorce or death.

The ownership and rights to life insurance policy, retirement, and inheritance.

Personal rights and obligations – including roles, expectations, and restrictions so long as they do not violate public policy or civil rights.

Alimony and division of assets in the event of divorce.

Premarital agreements cannot predetermine child custody or child support for existing or future children.

Why Couples Sign Prenups

Many couples decide to sign prenuptial agreements when one spouse has either significant assets, debts, owns a business, or has something outside of what is normally expected to be a part of a civil union or marriage. Other couples understand that prenuptial agreements are similar to living wills and simply help to clarify things in the even of the “what-ifs” and will help simplify and expedite legal matters. Premarital agreements are a great way to set expectations and identify what each party is bringing to the marriage before it takes place, helping to ensure that each party is entering into legal marriage with a clear picture. Prenuptial agreements are almost essential if one or both spouses have children from a previous relationship to help ensure that the financial well-being and inheritances of those children are protected.

If spouses did not sign a prenuptial agreement before entering the marriage, they can decide to draft a postnuptial agreement, which is the same thing as a prenup but takes place after a couple is already married. A couple can also opt to modify or update agreements as life changes.

For legal assistance with your prenuptial agreement or marriage laws, contact Bart W. Lombardo, Attorney at Law today!