The use of prenuptial agreements in New Jersey is not a controversial topic these days. Indeed, the state law governing the use of such agreements dates back to the 1980s. What this means is that if you want to enter into a prenuptial agreement, your ability to do so will not be the possible subject of contention. Instead, where people can get into trouble with such agreements is in the details of what they write down.
Although state law with regards to contracts – and prenuptial agreements are a species of contract – generally favors freedom of the parties to the contract to agree on its terms and conditions, this right is not unfettered. The New Jersey Uniform Premarital Agreement Act in particular has built-in provisions that safeguard the parties to such an agreement, especially if there are significant differences in their negotiating power during the drawing up of the contract.
Some of these safeguards include:
- A requirement that the agreement be in writing
- A prohibition against the agreement adversely affecting child support obligations
- Nullification of agreements that a party entered into involuntarily
- Prohibitions against unconscionable agreements, such as ones that would leave a spouse without a means of reasonable support or force that person to rely on government assistance, or which would result in a standard of living too far below the one that he or she had during the marriage. The determination of what constitutes an unconscionable agreement is for the judge to decide as a matter of law, and not for a jury to decide as a matter of fact.
If you are contemplating entering into, enforcing or challenging the provisions of a prenuptial agreement, a New Jersey law firm that practices in divorce law can be a valuable source of information and advice in any of these contexts.