Pre-Marital (or Pre-Nuptial) Agreements in New Jersey have become more enforceable and subject to fewer challenges based upon recent changes in the legislation. On June 27, 2013, the New Jersey Legislature amended the Pre-Marital Agreement Act to essentially remove the ability of a party to challenge the validity of a Pre-Nuptial agreement on the basis that it is “unconscionable at the time of enforcement.” This new law is a major departure from the prior existing law as to the enforcement of Pre-Marital agreements in New Jersey by its elimination of the old statutory definition for what constitutes an enforceable Pre-Marital agreement. For example, previously a New Jersey Pre-Marital agreement could be modified or set aside if it was deemed at the time of its enforcement to “render a spouse or partner in a civil union couple without a means of reasonable support, make a spouse or partner in a civil union couple a public charge, or provide a standard of living far below that which was enjoyed before the marriage or civil union.” However, from now on, Pre-Nuptial agreements in New Jersey will be much more enforceable and will not be subject to challenge unless the party seeking to set it aside:
- Was not provided full and fair disclosure of the earnings, property, and financial obligations of the other party;
- Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided;
- Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party; or
- Did not consult with independent legal counsel and did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, the opportunity to consult with independent legal counsel.
It should be noted that the revision to the Pre-Marital Agreement Act is not retroactive, in that it does not apply to or effect Pre-Nuptial agreements which were entered into prior to the effective date of the legislation.
Unmarried individuals who are contemplating marriage and the preparation and execution of a Pre-Marital agreement need to negotiate the terms of these agreements with an underlying understanding of how the law in New Jersey has changed and how the new law effects them.
Given the impact that a Pre-Marital agreement has on the rights to support, equitable distribution, and even rights in the event of the death of the other spouse, we recommend that you contact our team of experienced attorneys to schedule a PHONE CONSULTATION to discuss your case.
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