More and more people are getting prenuptial agreements to protect their assets in the case of a divorce, and we often see the news littered with headlines about celebrities who may lose millions because they didn’t sign prenups ahead of their weddings. But what the headlines don’t often point out is that prenups don’t always stand up in court.
New Jersey’s courts will consider prenuptial agreements in divorce proceedings, but they also aim for equitable settlements. If they find that a prenup is unfair or was not drafted properly, they may throw it out.
When can you challenge a New Jersey prenup?
New Jersey law allows people to use prenuptial agreements for a list of specific reasons. If an experienced attorney helps you prepare your prenup properly, the courts should enforce it “without consideration” in the event of a divorce, but there are a number of reasons the courts may not enforce a prenup:
- It places a limit on child support. Prenups cannot place limits on a child’s right to support, and if a prenup attempts to do so, the court can toss it out.
- You signed “involuntarily.” The word “involuntarily” may refer to pressures you faced when you signed. One example might be if you had already paid for your wedding only for your fiancée to demand you sign before getting married. The threat of a break-up might be another example.
- The agreement is “unconscionable” or was at the time you signed it. The law says the prenup needs to afford a reasonable measure of support, and it needs to uphold a certain standard of living. These terms may afford the court some room to exercise its subjective discretion.
- Your partner withheld information. The law says you were entitled to a “full and fair disclosure” of your partner’s assets, income and debts before you signed. If your partner didn’t share any of that information with you, and you didn’t expressly waive your right in writing, the prenup likely won’t stand.
- You didn’t have your own lawyer present. The law expects you’ll have legal counsel on hand when you sign a prenup. This lawyer should have represented you—not your partner—and if you didn’t have this lawyer or waive your right to legal counsel in writing, you may have grounds to challenge the prenup.
You want solid advice
You don’t necessarily need to accept the terms of an unfair prenup just because you signed it. If you think you may have grounds to challenge the agreement, an experienced attorney can help you explore your options.