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If I have a premarital agreement, how will property get divided?

As is the case in other states, many residents of New Jersey may choose to enter what is formally called a premarital agreement but which may also get referred to as a prenuptial agreement or even just a prenup.

Premarital agreements are enforceable in New Jersey so long as certain conditions are met. Among these conditions, the agreement has to be in proper form, and both sides have to have an opportunity to speak with their own attorneys about it.

Perhaps most importantly, both parties have to sign being fully aware of the other's financial situation, including what the other person owns and owes.

While they do not bind a court when it comes to deciding child custody and child support, courts are expected to follow the terms of a premarital agreement when it comes to the division of assets. The goal of the court will no longer be to divide up marital property fairly but to do so according to the terms of the premarital agreement.

When it comes to divvying property, premarital agreements can raise a number of legal issues. A spouse who stands to lose out on account of the premarital agreement may allege the agreement is not enforceable. In other cases, the agreement may be enforceable but difficult to interpret. In still other cases, a certain piece of property may not be covered by the premarital agreement at all.

The bottom line is that a premarital agreement is not necessarily going to eliminate the need for negotiation or even a courtroom appearance during property division. Even when a premarital agreement is in play, getting proper legal advice is important.

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