If you are in the process of getting married, you are probably busy with the wedding, reception and even the catering. Unfortunately, because of the staggering number of decisions and the euphoria surrounding the wedding, you may be like many couples and avoid discussing whether you should get a prenuptial agreement to address what would happen if the marriage ended.
Although the topic may at first seem cold or unromantic, failing to address this issue can come back to haunt many couples. Although prenuptial agreements often are cast in a negative light, in reality, they are very helpful documents that can save you from a horrible divorce experience if your marriage should end. Although prenuptial agreements provide many benefits, there are three that stand out.
Simply put, if you die without a prenuptial agreement in place, your assets will not necessarily be distributed in a manner that you and your future spouse think as right or fair. Instead, the laws of New Jersey will decide how your property will be divided.
However, with a prenuptial agreement, you and your future spouse have control over how your assets will be distributed in the event of a divorce. For example, you can designate specific property as separate or marital and decide the right of one spouse to buy out the family home, which can make property division easier and more “fair” in your mind. This is especially helpful if you own a business or have assets or heirlooms that have been in your family for generations.
Addressing debts and infidelity
Like assets, prenuptial agreements can also address how debt is treated in the event of a divorce. You and your future spouse will likely be bringing your own debts into the marriage. In some cases, you may become responsible for your spouse’s debts (and vice versa) in a divorce. A valid prenuptial agreement can lay out each spouse’s responsibility for their own debts if a divorce occurs.
Additionally, the infidelity of one spouse does not automatically bar that spouse from collecting alimony during a divorce under New Jersey law. However, you can include a clause in a prenuptial agreement that can address the consequences if adultery is present during your marriage, which may include forfeiture of rights to property and alimony.
Understanding your future spouse
In many cases, couples do not learn the real truth about their spouses until after their marriages. Going through the process of putting together a prenuptial agreement can provide marrying couples insight into each other’s finances, values and goals. Additionally, as it requires an examination of each person’s assets and debts, getting a prenup can open the lines of communication about finances and “what would happen if…” scenarios. Doing this at an early stage when participants are happy and divorce is not a consideration is important, since money problems and differences in values very often cited as among the top causes of marital strife.
An attorney can help you
Although prenuptial agreements are a powerful tools, they have their limitations and require a thoroughly knowledge of the potential issues that can arise in order to be effective. The experienced family law attorneys at Schepisi & McLaughlin, P.A can review your situation and help you craft an agreement that will avoid potential future pitfalls and help you achieve your goals.