Prenuptial agreements in New Jersey have become more common over the last few decades as each party entering marriage wants to protect their assets, limit their responsibility to spousal support and avoid a costly divorce settlement where division of assets can be decided on by the state of New Jersey. Forming a prenup in advance of getting married will take precedence over the courts as long as the contract was drafted appropriately.
Prenups are simply a contract entered between two individuals prior to being married that lists out clearly how the assets, property and debts each has brought into the marriage and has accumulated together will be split if a divorce were to take place.
Premarital agreements in New Jersey can be crafted to address many concerns a couple has as they enter marriage. One party may be previously divorced with children and the desire to protect marital assets for his or her children from the prior marriage may be reason to enter into a binding contract. Another issue is the expectation of an inheritance in the future that will want to be protected if a divorce were to occur.
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Others who have had an abundance of wealth in their lives want to make sure the other party is not planning to marry them for their wealth. There are endless reasons to formulate a prenuptial agreement in NJ as these are just some of the most common. One can gain a better understanding of these costs here.
New Jersey has enacted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act in their state in an attempt to make the laws surrounding prenuptial agreements very clear. Twenty-six other states have adopted this law as well to make execution of prenups standard and uniform across the country.
Prenuptial Agreement Laws in New Jersey
The below is paraphrased interpretation for a basic understanding of what each citation refers to. A licensed attorney specializing in marital law can provide a more thorough explanation of each citation and provide a prenup example for you to read through. For a full and legal article, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governing premarital agreements in NJ can be found in statutory citation N.J.S.A 37:2-31 to 37:2-41. To ensure that each party is forming a New Jersey prenuptial agreement that will be enforceable upon divorce, attorneys must be familiar with the rules of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act and abide by the rules within:
N.J.S.A 37:2-31 Short title – the following information in this statement will be made known as the “Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act.”
N.J.S.A 37:2-32 Definitions as used in this article:
- “Pre-civil union or premarital agreement” refers to an agreement between two individuals to be married (spouses or civil union couple) and will be effective upon marriage or upon the parties establishing a civil union;
- “Property” refers to the inclusive assets held, present or future
- “Unconscionable pre-civil union or premarital agreement” refers to a contract, either due to the absence of property or the ability to be unemployed:
- (1) Which would place an individual in a state of unreasonable support;
- (2) Which would make an individual a public charge; or
- (3) Which would offer a lower standard of living compared to what was considered normal prior to the marriage or civil union
N.J.S.A 37:2-33 Formalties; consideration – a prenuptial agreement will be in writing and not oral, signed by both parties and is absolutely enforceable without consideration.
- The collection of property each party owns or has brought into the relationship wherever acquired or located
- The management and control of the property obtained, whether to buy, sell, use, transfer and similar
- The outcome of the property in the event of divorce, death, separation of other documented events or non events
- The right to include or exclude spousal support
- The creation of a trust, will or other agreement to carry out the details of the premarital contract
- The claim to, and outcome of, the death benefit from a life insurance policy
- The choice of legal representation in regards to the formation of the prenuptial agreement
- The inclusion of any additional matter related to their personal rights and obligations as long as they are not in violation of public policy or criminal intent
N.J.S.A 37:2-35 Prenuptial agreements will not agree to the rights of child support or child custody
N.J.S.A 37:2-36 Prenuptial agreement becomes effective – this agreement becomes effective upon marriage or upon the individuals establishing a civil union.
N.J.S.A 37:2-37 Modification or withdraw of prenuptial agreement – through a written agreement signed by both parties, a prenuptial agreement may be modified or revoked. Once signed, this makes the modified or withdrawn prenuptial agreement enforceable without consideration
N.J.S.A 37:2-38 Enforcement of prenuptial agreement; generally – for a premarital agreement to become voided, the responsibility of proof is upon the party requesting the agreement to be unenforceable. Through clear and convincing evidence, a prenuptial agreement shall not be enforceable if:
- The party was under duress when the agreement was formed or the agreement was executed involuntarily; or
- The agreement was unconscionable at the time enforcement was sought; or
- That party, before execution of the agreement:
- (1) Did not receive a sensible or fair disclosure of the assets or financial obligations of the other party
- (2) In writing, did not voluntarily or exclusively waive their right to receive disclosure of the assets or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure given; and
- (3) Had no way of reasonably knowing or have satisfactory knowledge of the assets or financial obligations of the other party
- (4) Did not receive independent legal counsel and, in writing, did not expressly waive the right to meet with independent legal counsel
The unconscionability issue of a premarital agreement will be determined by New Jersey state law.
N.J.S.A 37:2-39 Enforcement of prenuptial agreement through the civil union or marriage determined to be null or void – if a marriage was in place but is later determined to be invalid, the prenuptial agreement is only enforceable to the point in which it is necessary to avoid an inequitable outcome.
N.J.S.A 37:2-40. Construction of article.
- This information is created in effect to make the law uniform with respect to the“Uniform Premarital Agreement Act”
- This information will apply to pre-civil union agreements created on the day of or after the date of adoption of pre-civil partnerships
N.J.S.A 37:2-41 Application of article – This article will apply to premarital agreements completed and executed on the day of and after its effective date.
Prenuptial agreements in New Jersey must adhere to these rules and the recommendation is for each individual to contact a NJ attorney that specializes in marital law. Sample premarital agreement forms can be used to give you a foundation for what a prenuptial agreement will include, however, to be certain your prenup will not be invalidated in the extreme case a divorce were to occur, consulting with a New Jersey prenuptial agreement attorney is advised.