Prenuptial Agreements are controversial.  Are they a realistic and necessary protection, or a bad-luck harbinger of future relationship strife?  The answers to this question are as varied as views on marriage and divorce in general.  Although prenuptial agreements have their fare share of critics, they are allowed under New Jersey Law, and specifically the New Jersey Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.

A New Jersey Prenuptial Agreement (sometimes referred to as a premarital agreement)  may be agreed to between prospective spouses or partners in contemplation of marriage/domestic partnership/civil union.  Prenuptial agreements are effective/enforceable at the time of the marriage/civil union/domestic partnership.

 in New Jersey 

To be enforceable, a New Jersey Prenuptial Agreement must be in writing, and must also have a “statement of assets annexed” to the Agreement.  Like most contracts, “consideration” must be given, and the Agreement must also be signed by both parties so as to be legally binding.

Under the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, the parties may contract with respect to some of the following types of issues:

  • Rights and obligations as it relates to property;
  • The disposition of property upon separation/divorce/etc.
  • Choice of Law for a separation/divorce/etc.
  • Spousal support;
  • And more.
It must be noted that a prenuptial agreement may not waive a child’s right to support from either parent.
Once a prenuptial agreement is in place, the burden of revoking or amending the Agreement–absent consent of the other party–falls to the party arguing the unenforceability of the Agreement.
 Some examples of when a New Jersey Prenuptial Agreement may not be enforceable include:
  • The Agreement was unconscionable at the time “enforcement was sought”
  • Access to independent legal counsel was not allowed to a party and that right to counsel was never waived;
  • The Agreement was not entered into “voluntarily”;
  • And more.
It’s important to remember that a prenuptial agreement is, at heart, a contract.  Therefore, many basic contracting principles may apply.
Conclusion 
New Jersey Court’s and the New Jersey Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act provide a lot of latitude in creating enforceable prenuptial agreements.  As with any law or important decision, it is important to seek appropriate professional or other appropriate advice prior to making a decision with respect to entering into prenuptial agreements, the enforceability of a prior prenuptial agreement, or any other family law or other legal issue.

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