A reconciliation agreement is a marital agreement that parties enter into after they have either separated or filed for divorce and they thereafter agree to reconcile. New Jersey Courts tend to favor reconciliation agreements as furthering the State of New Jersey’s interest in preserving marriage. As such, New Jersey Courts tend to enforce reconciliation agreements as long as they are fair and equitable.
The leading case for authority on reconciliation agreements is Nicholson v. Nicholson, 199 N.J. Super. 525 (App. Div. 1985). The central issue in Nicholson was whether a spousal promise to resume cohabitation qualifies as adequate consideration to bind the other spouse to his or her reciprocal promise. In Nicholson, the Appellate Division warned that care must be taken when the consideration for a spousal promise is the willingness of the other spouse to simply continue the marriage. The Court noted: “That willingness must spring from more than the underlying marital commitment that keeps marriages going despite a spouse’s faults. Courts will not enforce every spousal promise that was made to relieve a marital tension.” However, the Court recognized that a spousal promise that induces a reconciliation will be enforced if it is fair and equitable. The key element that the Court must determine regarding the enforcement of reconciliation agreements is that the promise to resume marital relations was made when the marital rift was substantial. Thus, a promise made between spouses at a time when the marital relationship has reached such a substantial rift qualifies as sufficient consideration.