If you are thinking about getting married and you’ve either been married before or you are bringing substantial assets into the marriage, you should consider drafting and signing a prenuptial agreement, so that you can protect your assets in the event of separation or divorce. Contrary to popular belief, the decision to address property issues with a prenuptial agreement is not reflective of a lack of trust—it’s a way to keep financial issues from taking center stage in your marriage, allowing you to focus on your relationship.
Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
There are generally four reasons to implement a prenuptial agreement. If any of them apply to your situation, draft and sign one:
- You have children from a prior marriage to whom you want property to go. Without a prenuptial agreement, your spouse may receive a greater portion of your estate than intended at your death. Of course, you can also avoid that with effective estate planning.
- You want to prevent arguments about money should you separate or divorce—In a prenuptial agreement, you can specify the division of debts and assets in the event of a divorce.
- You don’t want to be responsible for your spouse’s debts—You may have concerns about substantial debt your spouse brought into the marriage or has accumulated while you’ve been married. A prenuptial agreement can be used to allocate specific debt to specific parties.
- You may want to clarify your financial rights during marriage—A prenuptial agreement can dictate access to assets, as well as financial responsibilities, during your marriage.
What Happens If You Don’t Have a Valid Prenuptial Agreement?
In New Jersey, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement in place, the courts will use the principle of equitable distribution to divide marital debts and assets. Under this principle, the court will simply seek to make a distribution that’s fair (not necessarily equal), using a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, standard of living during the marriage, age and health of the parties, and earning potential of the parties (among other considerations).
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges, including people who have sustained workplace injuries. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or 917-494-5695 to set up an appointment.