What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between future spouses that essentially outlines who owns what assets, as well as debts or liabilities, prior to the couple getting married.  This agreement is also commonly referred to as a “prenup.”    Through a prenup, the couple should disclose all assets, money, and property.  Usually, the prenup can also describe the rights and responsibilities of the spouses to any of the mentioned assets, money, and property in the event of divorce or death.

Prenuptial Agreements in New Jersey

Passed in 1988, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, or “UPAA,” governs prenuptial agreements in New Jersey. Pursuant to UPAA, in order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid it must be: in writing, signed by both spouses, and have a statement of assets attached to the agreement. This statement of assets serves to guarantee that there was fair and reasonable disclosure of assets and financial information at the time the agreement was drafted and subsequently executed. If the parties want to revoke or amend the prenuptial agreement at a later time, they may only do so with a written agreement that is, again, signed by both spouses.

Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Challenged?

There may be certain circumstances in which a prenup can be challenged by a spouse. The spouse who challenges the prenuptial agreement has the burden to prove why the agreement may be invalid. Some instances in which a prenup may be challenged can include, but are not limited to:

  • The spouse involuntarily executed the prenuptial agreement;
  • The spouse contesting the agreement did not consult with an attorney prior to signing the agreement;
  • The spouse was under duress; and/or
  • The spouse did not have adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligation of the other spouse.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Prenuptial Agreement?

Couples who seek a prenuptial agreement do not necessarily need the assistance of an attorney. However, given the complexities of such a legal document, it may be in their best interest to each consult with respective attorneys. This can help ensure that each party understand their rights and entitlements, as well as ensure that their wishes are fully conveyed through the agreement.

Paone Zaleski & Murphy is an experienced family law and divorce firm with offices in Woodbridge and Red Bank, NJ. Contact our firm to discuss your legal matter.