Often when someone mentions a prenuptial agreement, the assumption is the parties’ must have significant assets. The reality is that prenuptial agreements are not just for the super wealthy. Over the last few years, I have seen a significant increase in the number of clients getting prenuptial agreements as the issues have become much less taboo.
Prenuptial agreements can be a useful tool for almost any couple getting married. These agreements are often used to protect premarital assets, though premarital assets are often already protected under the law. In the current economy, it is not uncommon to see people going into a marriage with significant debt with the largest being college contribution. Prenuptial agreements can be used to protect one party from being held responsible for premarital debt and student loans. Under New Jersey law, these debts, especially student loans, can be considered for equitable distribution. In other words, you may end up on the hook for your spouse’s student loans even if he/she acquired them prior to marriage without a prenuptial agreement in place.
Another good reason to a get prenuptial agreement is to reduce the potential costs associated with a divorce. It’s often easier to agree on how to divide assets and income prior to being married (during the honeymoon period) then at the back end when the marriage breaks down. The acrimony associated with a divorce can often lead to substantial legal fees being incurred. These costs can be avoided or substantially reduced if the parties enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.
No matter what the reason, prenuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace. New Jersey recently passed new legislation which favors enforcement of prenuptial agreements. However, the new law also is very clear on the requirements that need to be met when a prenuptial agreements is drafted, one of which is the use of attorneys to prepare the agreement. In light of the new law, couples considering a prenuptial agreement should meet with an experienced attorney and do so well in advance of their wedding to ensure enough time to properly comply with the requirements for enforcement.
Kevin Falkenstein, Esq. is a Partner with the firm and focuses his practice on all aspects of divorce and family law including prenuptial agreements. If you and your soon-to-be spouse are considering a prenuptial agreement, contact our Haddonfield office today to schedule an initial consultation.