Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Why some couples may want to consider a prenup

Some people in New Jersey may want to consider a prenuptial agreement before getting married. A prenup describes how finances will be handled in case of divorce. It may specify that one spouse will not request alimony, and it can outline what property will remain separate even if this is different from how such property is normally handled during a divorce.

As an example, one person entering the marriage might own a home. Usually, property that a person brings into a marriage is considered separate property. However, if the property is mingled with marital funds, it might become joint property in the eyes of the legal system. This could be the case if the person uses income earned during the marriage to pay the mortgage or do renovations since this income may be classified as joint property. A prenup could specify that any increase in property value remains separate property even if it is funded by joint property.

Another reason to get a prenup is if one person has children. A prenup can protect that person's assets so if the person dies, the children will inherit them instead of the spouse. A prenup may be used alongside estate planning documents to determine what happens to a person's property in this case.

A prenup should protect both spouses, so if an agreement is written in a way that leaves one spouse at a significant financial disadvantage, it could be dismissed by a judge. Even couples with prenups must still negotiate child custody and support since these issues cannot be addressed in a prenup. This can be the most difficult part of the divorce, but the couple may be able to come to an amicable agreement outside of court instead of ending up in a child custody dispute.

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