Pre-Marital Agreements Require More Consideration in New Jersey
- October 2, 2013
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Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming more and more popular in New Jersey, but these pre-marital agreements now require more consideration than before. Recently, the New Jersey Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act was revised in such a way that makes it harder than before to break that agreement even with changed circumstances. A pre-marital or pre-civil union agreement acts as a contract between two people to determine the distribution of property and assets in the event that the union dissolves. When these agreements are being established and executed, parties usually do not consider that the dissolution of their relationship is a realistic possibility and draft the agreement on emotions rather than on practicality. Parties may fail to consider situations that may require an agreement to revised after it has been executed – such as a serious illness, disability, or the inability to work. These situations may leave one party in a greater need of support than the other. Recently, Governor Chris Christie signed amendments to the law that make it more difficult for a party to revise a pre-nuptial or pre-civil union agreement. The new amendments to the law specify that a New Jersey court can only alter or revise an agreement if the party wishing to revise the agreement can prove that it was unconscionable at the time it was executed. For instance, such an agreement would be considered unconscionable if a party entered into the agreement without full knowledge of the other parties’ property, assets, or debts and without voluntarily waiving his or her rights to such knowledge. A court would be likely to modify an agreement that was signed under these circumstances. On the other hand, New Jersey courts will no longer void or modify agreements based on happenstance or changed circumstances that occur after the agreements have been executed. Ultimately, for a pre-nuptial or pre-civil union agreement to remain effective certain factors must be successfully satisfied. The agreements must be willingly and voluntarily executed by the parties and must be memorialized in writing. Next, all parties to the agreement must disclose all of his or her fiduciary liabilities and assets in order to ensure that the agreement is not unconscionable at execution. Then, the parties must have the execution of the agreement notarized. Since pre-nuptial and pre-civil union agreements are becoming more popular as family dynamics and family constitutions are changing in the Garden State, any person who may be considering instituting such an agreement before they get married or enter into a civil union must educate themselves on the changing legal status of such agreements and how the validity of such agreements may or may not be challenged after execution. If you are considering entering into a marriage or civil union and wish to protect children of a first marriage, there is great disparity in the income or new worth between you and your intended, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to learn your rights and liabilities in the event things do not last. For more information regarding Pre-nuptial, Pre Civil Union agreements, alimony, equitable distribution or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.