Bill Looks to Ensure Conscionability of Prenuptial Agreements

A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...

A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Picture taken in Brazil, where 14-carat is the most common kind of gold used in jewelry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The State Senate recently approved a bill that would change the way courts in New Jersey look at prenuptial agreements. Judges in divorce cases, under this bill, would be required to assess the conscionability of the prenup at the time the agreement was drawn up, in other words what is legally or ethically right, proper or fitting.(1) If, after reading the following, you need legal assistance with a prenuptial agreement, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm in Lebanon, N.J.

People enter into prenuptial agreements for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is to protect assets they are bringing into a marriage. (2) Prenuptial agreements, commonly referred to as prenups, can also help protect one spouse from the debts of the other; protect the inheritance rights of children from previous relationships; ensure that family property remains within the birth family; and also convey how you intend for your assets to be distributed upon your death. (3) (In terms of the latter, you should not neglect to execute other estate planning documents, such as a will, to ensure your wishes are honored.)

Prenuptial agreements cannot, however, be designed to leave one spouse without reasonable support; leave a spouse dependent on public assistance; or provide a spouse with a standard of living considerably less than he or she had prior to the marriage. (4) Such agreements are considered unconscionable. With the adoption of the aforementioned bill, New Jersey judges will take more care to see that this in fact does not happen.

Prenups essentially are financial agreements. Non-financial considerations within a prenuptial agreement are not binding in court and could, in fact, cause the courts to look less seriously at the agreement as a whole. There are limitations on what prenuptial agreements can include and these limitations vary by state. In general, however, prenups cannot include restrictions regarding the support or custody – including visitation rights – of children. (2) The agreements also should not make divorce more economically attractive than staying married.

Because the contents of a prenuptial agreement can vary, it is important to know what conditions are allowed in your state. It is also important to make sure the agreements are lawfully executed. (3) A knowledgeable family law attorney can help ensure that your prenuptial agreement would stand up in court. In Hunterdon County, the experienced family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm (located in Lebanon, NJ) can assist you with prenuptial agreements and other marital issues.



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