Valentine’s Day is coming up and you know what that means: engagements! During the global COVID-19 pandemic, many couples have chosen or been forced to postpone their wedding. These couples are now benefitting from added time to contemplate their expectations for marriage. If you are one of those couples, you may want to consider one thing: in the immortal words of Kanye West, “If you ain’t no punk, holla ‘we want prenups!’”
What is a prenup? A prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a written contract that a couple enters into prior to getting legally married. A prenup allows a couple to control the legal rights they acquire upon marriage and negotiate what happens when the marriage ends, by death or divorce. In order for a prenup to be considered valid there must be full disclosure, fair terms, and the negotiation and execution of the document must be free of duress.
Why should I consider a prenup? A prenup allows a couple to decide how to manage the legal rights and assets they acquire upon marriage and negotiate what happens when the marriage ends. This is especially beneficial to individuals who own their own property, businesses, have children from a prior marriage, inheritance, and assets and/or debts. Prenups are tailored to your exact needs and objectives, however, they are not always right for every marriage and there is no “one size fits all.” Common topics addressed in prenups are: property and assets acquired before the marriage, property and assets acquired during the marriage, spousal support upon divorce, beneficiary designations, social media posts and consent, and pets.
Divorce is expensive. Deciding to get a prenup can save you time and money in a divorce by effectively streamlining aspects of the settlement process. Only, those assets and properties not already settled in the prenup will be addressed during a divorce proceeding.
Beyond the possible streamlining of divorce, prenups also set the couple’s expectations regarding asset management and marital lifestyle. A leading cause of stress and argument in marriages is finances. A prenup forces a couple to actively communicate regarding all aspects of the marriage as a contract. Prenups give couples the ability to lay everything on the table including expectations as to finances and marital lifestyle. Prenups are not bad luck and you should not be offended if your significant other asks for one. Think of a prenup like investing in insurance – you may never need it, but it’s there if you do.
We had children before we were married, or are planning to have children when we are married, can a prenup settle child support and custody matters? No. Courts in New Jersey will not accept any terms related to child custody or child support in a prenuptial agreement.
I’m already married, can I still get a prenup? No. However, New Jersey does recognize postnuptial agreements for couples who are already legally married and are not contemplating divorce.
We have a prenup, but things have changed since we got married, can we change it? Yes! A prenup can be amended by a married couple at any point in the marriage to reflect changed circumstances.
Contact us to discuss whether a prenup is the right choice for you!
By Caitlin Holland, Esquire
Stephanie Hunnell, Esq. , Ryan Westerman, Esq. and Caitlin Holland, Esq.