Pre-nuptial Agreements

What is a Pre-nuptial Agreement?

Pre-nuptial agreements are contracts between parties before they get married. These agreements define parties’ rights if they separate or divorce. It is important to hire an experienced prenup lawyer prior to preparing or signing a pre-nuptial agreement, as New Jersey Courts look at these agreements carefully before enforcing them. If the pre-nuptial agreement does not meet certain requirements, a New Jersey court can decide to ignore the agreement as if it was never entered into. This can, and does, happen.

It is essential that pre-nuptial agreements are drafted correctly. It is very important that full disclosure happens prior to signing the agreements. Both parties need to have full knowledge of the economic circumstances of the other. These types of agreements must be signed willfully, knowingly, and voluntarily. Full knowledge of the other’s financial circumstances acts as a way to ensure the agreement will be enforced if the relationship does not work out. It is also important that these pre-nuptial agreements are signed as far ahead of the wedding ceremony as possible. Waiting until the last minute to sign a pre-nuptial agreement is a recipe for problems if it ever needs to be enforced.

What Do Pre-nuptial Agreements Actually Do?

They address disagreements in advance on what can become extremely stressful, expensive, and time-consuming problems if no pre-nuptial agreement existed. By entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, the parties have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations if their marriage ends. Pre-nuptial agreements are highly recommended. They serve as a valuable method for protecting assets and limiting later divorce costs.

Pre-nuptial agreements, when done properly, provide for known results and certainty on important financial issues. They can, and frequently do, address support and alimony issues. Pre-nuptial agreements also address what will be kept separate property and what will be divided as marital property, as well as how it will be divided. 

A typical New Jersey divorce without a pre-nuptial agreement can take about a year to complete, with unknown results and uncertainty. When a pre-nuptial agreement is in place, the uncertainty on support, alimony, and equitable distribution typically does not exist. The time to obtain a divorce is drastically reduced since these issues are resolved from the beginning, with the primary question being whether the agreement is enforceable. If it is, the issues left should not take a year or more to resolve.

The New Jersey-based prenup lawyers at Hoagland Longo have prepared numerous pre-nuptial agreements which have withstood judicial scrutiny. Please call our experienced partners, Jessica Mazur, Andrea Mackaronis, or Brian McFadden-DiNicola, to discuss your need and the benefit to you of a pre-nuptial agreement.