Discussing Your Finances with Your Fiancé: A Primer on Prenuptial Agreements

Discussing Your Finances…

So you’re engaged, congratulations! Planning a wedding can be one of the most exciting (and stressful) times of your life. As you begin to plan for your future with your soon-to-be spouse, it is always wise to have candid conversations about important issues, such as your finances. While it may not be as romantic as the honeymoon you’re planning, it is certainly worth consulting with a family law attorney to determine whether a prenuptial agreement is necessary under your circumstances. All too often, parties hesitate in exploring prenuptial agreements, and this leads to last minute panic. It even leads to pressure from family and friends. No one wants to go into a marriage contemplating its dissolution, but as the old saying goes: if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

A prenuptial agreement is simply a legal document that designates how assets will be divided in the event of the termination of a marriage. It can be used to protect the assets that each party brings into a marriage as well as certain assets that the parties acquire or grow during the marriage. It can also address whether either spouse will be required to pay alimony in the event of a divorce. However, it cannot address issues relating to custody or child support of your unborn children.

The rules for prenuptial agreements in New Jersey require that all agreements be written. No verbal agreements of this type are considered valid in court. The agreement must be executed voluntarily. It cannot be considered “unconscionable” at the time it was signed. Basically, this means that the signatures of both parties are essential to the agreement. It also means that the agreement must contain a list of each person’s actual and anticipated assets as of the date the agreement is signed. Both parties are advised to seek independent legal advice with regard to the agreement to be sure that their best interests are being protected. Should one of the parties decide to sign without consulting an attorney, that person must sign something acknowledging that they have waived their right to an attorney’s advice. Failing to provide for any of the above can void the agreement in the event of a divorce.

Although not every issue can be addressed in your prenuptial agreement, it is worth the time and effort to consult an NJ divorce attorney that drafts prenuptial agreements prior to your marriage. Our attorneys are well-versed in the laws relating to prenuptial agreements. Our partners, Laura Ruvolo Lipp and Melissa Ruvolo were published in the New Jersey Law Journal for their article addressing New Jersey’s recently revised laws on prenuptial agreements.

Taking the necessary steps to protect your future will give you peace of mind when you say “I do!”