Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers | January 12, 2023 | Family Law
Parties enter a prenuptial agreement before marriage to avoid a “messy divorce” and costly litigation. The premarital agreement outlines the divorce terms should they decide to divorce. Prenuptial agreements can address a variety of issues, including:
- Spousal support
- Property division
- Martial debts
- Separate debts and assets
- Rights and responsibilities of each spouse
The goal is to execute an ironclad premarital agreement that is legally enforceable in court. However, some things could void a prenuptial agreement in New Jersey.
Reasons a Prenuptial Agreement Is Void in New Jersey
A prenuptial agreement must meet the statutory requirements for marital agreements to be valid and enforceable in court. Reasons that a prenuptial agreement might be voidable in New Jersey include the following:
Prenuptial Agreements Must Be in Writing
A premarital agreement must be in writing. The agreement must include a statement of assets and be signed by both parties. The agreement must be signed, witnessed, and notarized before marriage.
Evidence of Duress
Parties to a prenuptial agreement must enter the agreement voluntarily. The prenuptial agreement is void if a party is forced to sign the agreement through threats, physical force, or other duress. The party alleging duress has the burden of proving they were forced to sign the document to void the prenuptial agreement.
Parties might choose to videotape the meeting where the agreement is signed. The parties state aloud for the video that they are signing the agreement of their own free will. However, a party can still allege duress if they have evidence they were forced to make that statement when they signed the premarital agreement.
Signing a Prenuptial Agreement Very Close to the Wedding Date
Both parties should have ample time to review the agreement before signing it. Signing a prenuptial agreement immediately before the wedding day could be a reason to void the agreement if a spouse challenges the agreement.
A Party Used Deceit When Entering a Prenuptial Agreement
Both parties agree to full disclosure when negotiating and executing a prenuptial agreement. Each party must provide a complete financial disclosure to the other party. If a party attempts to hide assets and other information to gain a more favorable agreement, the court could void the entire prenuptial agreement.
The Terms of the Agreement Are Unconscionable
Parties can agree to whatever terms they desire in a prenuptial agreement. However, a judge can void a premarital agreement if the judge believes the terms are incredibly one-sided and overly unfair to a party.
For example, a judge might void the terms of a premarital agreement that denies a spouse alimony because they gained weight during the marriage. Another example might be dividing marital property based on a spouse’s performance of specific sexual acts during the marriage.
A Party Lacked Mental Capacity To Execute a Contract
A prenuptial agreement is a binding contract between two parties that a court with jurisdiction over the matter can enforce. A party cannot legally enter a contract if they lack the mental capacity to understand their actions.
For example, a spouse who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs might lack the mental capacity to sign a premarital agreement. Typically, a minor under the age of 18 years old does not have the capacity to enter into a legally binding contract.
Singed Without Legal Counsel
Each party should be represented by their own attorney when negotiating and signing a prenuptial agreement. A lawyer protects the client’s rights and best interests throughout the process. One lawyer cannot represent both parties without a potential conflict of interest.
If either party to a prenuptial agreement did not have a lawyer, the judge might void the entire agreement or parts of the agreement. There is too much of a chance that a party can take advantage of another party if both parties do not have separate counsel to ensure they understand their legal rights, the terms of the agreement, and the consequences of signing the agreement.
What Should You Do if You Believe Your Prenuptial Agreement Is Invalid?
If you have a premarital agreement and want to divorce your spouse, seek legal advice from an experienced Bergen County divorce lawyer. An attorney reviews the prenuptial agreement to determine your rights regarding property division, debts, and other financial matters.
Terms in a prenuptial agreement are void if they relate to child custody or child support. The court retains jurisdiction to decide what is in the best interest of the couple’s children during a divorce proceeding.
Whether you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it is always wise to seek legal counsel if you are considering separating from or divorcing your spouse.
Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.
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