New Jersey Divorce Lawyers
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
The State of New Jersey boasts one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation. Unfortunately, despite this distinction, divorce still happens. For couples deciding to take the plunge in New Jersey, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are becoming increasingly commonplace. While any couple can benefit from having one of these documents drafted, it is especially important for couples with significant assets. Although New Jersey couples have a good chance of lasting until death do they part, many still prefer to protect their assets just in case.
For some couples, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are as much a part of the wedding planning process as choosing a venue and making dinner selection choices. Our New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are dedicated to helping couples establish prenuptial agreements in the most amicable and stress free way possible. Deciding property distribution, ownership of financial assets, and division of personal items before the wedding can save a great deal of time and emotional stress should the marriage end in divorce.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that a marrying couple makes prior to their wedding. The agreement becomes active once the couple’s marriage has taken place. There are many issues that can be settled in a prenuptial agreement that protect each spouse’s premarital assets, as well as arrange for the separation of the marital assets in case of divorce. The division of property is perhaps the most common issue to be addressed in a prenuptial agreement.
The couple decides the rights and obligations that each has to their joint and separate property. Stipulations can outline which spouse has the right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, assign, or dispose of property should the marriage end in separation, divorce, or death.
Spousal support arrangements can also be established. Couples can choose which spouse would be entitled to alimony payments, what percentage of the marital income would be designated in the spousal support agreement, and how modifications to the agreement can be made. Couples can also stipulate what conditions would eliminate the obligation of spousal support.
The couple can also make a will or trust to supervise the fulfillment of the agreement as well as decide ownership rights to death benefits claimed from life insurance policies. They can choose how the agreement will be interpreted in the event of divorce and stipulate rights and obligations to personal property, such as who gets custody of the family pet and who will be responsible for the ongoing expenses related to the family pet.
Two items that cannot be addressed in a prenuptial agreement are child custody arrangements and child support. Marital children are a separate factor in a divorce proceeding and cannot be decided ahead of time. A couple that plans to have children can discuss what their preferences would be for primary or shared custody, child support, and what financial obligations each parent would have to the child, but none of these can be made an enforceable stipulation of a prenuptial agreement.
In some cases, couples who are already married develop a need to establish a postnuptial agreement. This is very much like the prenuptial agreement except that the couple is already married. Though the marriage may be in good health, the accumulation of property or personal wealth prompts them to establish this type of contract should the marriage become unstable or end in divorce.
Postnuptial agreements can address a variety of post-marital topics. Amendments to the couple’s prenuptial agreement can be made to accommodate changes in personal property or wealth from such sources as inheritance or personal gains. The agreements can establish the division of property acquired during the marriage as well as obligations to marital assets and debts.
Alimony arrangements can also be included in postnuptial agreements. Couples that are further established in their careers may have a better idea of who would be entitled to alimony and what percentage of the contributing spouse’s income would be fair. These stipulations can be made for separation, divorce, or death that occurs in the marriage. As in prenuptial agreements, child custody and support cannot be included in a postnuptial agreement.
New Jersey courts uphold prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, which can only be challenged if a spouse can prove the agreement was made involuntarily. They must also prove that the agreement made was grossly unreasonable or that their spouse failed to fully disclose their assets and liabilities.
New Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Couples Establish Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
If you are planning to be married or are already married and want to ensure that your assets are protected should your marriage end in divorce, one of our experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. Call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. From our offices in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout the state.