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Postnuptial Agreements: What You Need to Know About Mid-Marriage Agreements in New Jersey
Most people have heard of prenuptial agreements. High-profile divorce cases such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Bill Gates have shown people that even the “rich and famous” may choose to not have a prenuptial agreement. But what most people don’t know is that there’s such a thing as a postnuptial agreement.
Although he didn’t have a prenup, Gates did, in fact, have a postnuptial agreement to protect his financial interests. Once the honeymoon is over, many couples come to the realization that they have to protect their assets, and the best way to do this is with a postnuptial.
Unlike a prenup, a postnup is meant to protect the assets that have been acquired during the marriage. Let’s look at how a postnuptial agreement works and if it makes sense for you and your situation.
What’s a Postnuptial Agreement?
Let’s start by looking at prenuptial agreements and how they differ from postnuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement is supposed to protect the money that you bring into a marriage. Basically, if you get married and have assets worth $1 million, then your spouse will have no claim on that money should you both get divorced.
A postnuptial agreement focuses on the assets acquired after you marry. This is a predetermined arrangement that a couple agrees to, which will govern the division of those marital assets if they should divorce. (Similarly, it can also include other contingencies including death or separation.) Although distributions of assets can be stipulated in such an agreement, one area of contention during a divorce cannot be included in a postnuptial agreement—child custody.
Why Would I Want a Mid-Marriage Agreement?
For some people, the idea of a mid-marriage/postnuptial agreement sounds like something that wouldn’t suit their needs. However, it can be quite useful, especially if:
- If you didn’t outline your finances and the possible split of your assets in a prenuptial agreement;
- If you’re having financial issues that are putting a strain on your marriage;
- If you or your spouse are trying to get financial support for a child from a previous marriage;
- If you or your spouse have undergone a significant change in finances (such as a large salary increase or inheritance or the fruition of a stock portfolio or similar investment);
- If you or your spouse are trying to work through marital difficulties, but wish to protect your assets with a postnuptial agreement in the event that you can’t repair the marriage and you decide to divorce;
- If you or your spouse planned to get a prenuptial agreement, but didn’t do so and instead choose to handle things after the marriage; and
- If you or your spouse started a business after the marriage.
This last point is an especially big issue because it may involve (and impact) those outside of the marriage. In this case, the business may have partners who wish to protect the company. They likely won’t want to share control with a partner’s former spouse should they divorce. Therefore, they may request a postnuptial agreement to help ensure a reasonable split of the assets that leaves control of the business to one of the spouses.
What’s Required to Enter Into a Postnuptial Agreement?
There are five points that must be met in order to enter into a legally binding post-nuptial agreement. They are the following:
- Both spouses have to accurately disclose their finances and assets;
- Both spouses have adequate time to review the agreement and make an informed decision;
- Both spouses either have their own legal representative review the document or else they must waive their right to counsel (in writing);
- Both spouses (and their attorneys) consider the agreement to be “fair and reasonable”; and
- Neither spouse is entering the agreement under the undue influence of deceit, emotional pressure, and manipulation.
A lot of people see a prenuptial agreement as a sign that the spouses don’t have faith in the relationship and are already planning for an inevitable divorce. But when you consider the odds of a marriage ending in divorce—50% of all marriages in America end in divorce—then you realize it’s better to be cautious, than to pay the price for it later.
The same can be said for a postnuptial agreement. If you don’t properly establish the way you wish your assets to be split in the event of a divorce, then you’ll end up having this settled for you after expending the time and money of a legal proceeding.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Marlton, NJ Today
If you want a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we’ll fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.