Yes, It's Smart to Sign a Prenup
“Wait, you want me to sign a prenup? No way! Guess you don’t love or trust me.”
If your spouse-to-be asks you to partner on a prenup, does that mean they know they’ll be visiting a divorce attorney in five years?
Actually, it’s probably quite the opposite.
While it is super unromantic, when you and your future spouse sign a prenuptial agreement, you’re proactively deciding together before the wedding what assets will be considered separate and what will be considered marital—and in case of divorce, how the marital assets would be divided.
Hands-down, money clocks in as one of marriage’s biggest stressors, often leading to a breakup.
That’s because many couples don’t talk finances, or share their attitudes toward money, saving and spending, until after they say, “I do.”
So rather than signaling the demise of a marriage that hasn’t yet been officially sealed, a prenup helps couples address their views on money—and safeguard their financial futures.
Here’s what you need to know about a prenup, and why it’s really not a dirty word or something to be feared.
Prenups aren’t just for the rich and famous
Angie and Brad. Tom and Katie. Tiger and Elin.
And they’re worth millions, so that’s why they needed prenups, right?
That’s a prenup stereotype we’d like to totally smash.
Prenups aren’t just for the wealthy or celebrities.
Actually, prenups work for all couples who commingle their assets—it’s not about wealth, which is a relative term anyway. You should safeguard any assets you have, whether it’s a home worth $1 million or $100,000.
Other cases where a prenup is a no-brainer: if you or our spouse have been married before, or if one or both of you has children from a previous marriage. On the business side, a prenup makes sense if you bring in substantially more income than your spouse, or if your spouse owns their own business or part of a family business.
Where to Get Started
When you decide to sign a prenup, get in touch with a family law or divorce attorney, who specializes in writing these agreements and will ensure it’s consistent with your state’s treatment of marital assets.
However, because prenups require negotiation, you and your spouse-to-be must hire separate attorneys so you can each be independently advised of your rights.
As far as timing, plan to sign your prenup well in advance to the wedding. We've seen cases where a prenup that's signed the week of the wedding, for example, was later pushed to be undone because the timing raised questions of duress or coercion.
In the state of New Jersey, prenups, which go into effect once the marriage takes place, address, but aren’t limited to:
spouses’ rights and obligations to separate and joint property, whenever and wherever, acquired or located
the right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, assign, dispose of or otherwise manage and control property
the division of property upon separation, divorce or death, or other event
the modification or elimination of spousal support.
New Jersey prenups don’t allow spouses to predetermine issues related to their children, including child support or custody issues. These would be decided separately by a court.
Finally, it’s important to know what defines a valid prenup under New Jersey’s version of The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), including that the agreement must be in writing, be signed by both spouses and a statement of assets must be attached to the agreement. After the marriage, the agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by both parties.
Let Those Wedding Bells Ring
If you’re engaged, congrats!
Enjoy this happy time in your life—but as you’re hiring a DJ, picking out a wedding dress and planning your honeymoon, review the pros of signing a prenup now, rather than dealing with major financial disagreements later.
If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.