A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that couples contemplating marriage use to lay out financial and other obligations that must be performed in the event of divorce or the death of one of the partners. Prenuptial agreements are primarily intended to protect assets that are owned at the time of the marriage.
Any property acquired after a couple is legally married is generally considered to be jointly owned marital property. The equitable distribution of joint property will be determined during divorce proceedings. Prenuptial agreements can also protect assets one of the signers may acquire in the future, but must be carefully written to include that specification. For more information on when and how a prenuptial agreement may protect future assets in New Jersey, please continue reading, then contact one of our experienced Bergen County family lawyers today.
The key to protecting future assets with a prenuptial agreement is to describe the future assets in specific detail. For example, one spouse may anticipate that a trust set up by parents will come under his or her control at some future date. A full description of the trust, along with specifics on who will own it, may be enough for a future divorce court judge to allow it to be kept as individual property as opposed to joint property. This analysis is done on a case-by-case basis and agreements with vague, general language describing some future unknown asset are less likely to succeed.
Just as a future asset can be protected by a prenuptial agreement if adequately described, future income can also be treated as belonging to one partner but not both. If one partner operates a business that initially generates only a small amount of income but is forecasted to provide substantially more income in the future, you may be able to have it decreed as individual income. The same applies to one partner inheriting a family enterprise that generates income. Again, specificity in the drafting of the agreement is required to ensure this income or income-producing asset is maintained as the individual property of one partner.
Please bear in mind that future debt can also be handled this way in a prenuptial agreement. If one of the partners anticipates taking on a large amount of debt down the road, it can be specified that this debt will not be part of the marital estate.
It is strongly advised that you reach out to our firm if you are considering drafting a prenuptial agreement. We can assist you and your partner in evaluating your present and projected assets, discuss your options and draft them in the most legally binding language that can be managed.
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Aronsohn, Weiner, Salerno & Kaufman has helped clients with various legal challenges for over 40 years. For legal counsel regarding family law, litigation, business law, real estate, and criminal law contact us today.