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If you're in the process of planning a wedding, discussing a prenuptial agreement probably isn't something you're eager to do. It's hard enough to sustain a relationship without planning in detail what you'll do if that relationship fails. With that said, it can be helpful to think of a prenuptial agreement as a way to ensure that you won't be caught blindsided in the event of a divorce, and that you can rely on a contract you reached at a time when you and your spouse were in agreement which will dictate how your assets will be allocated. Prenuptial agreements can be a way of providing security to both parties that a divorce will not be a drawn-out, acrimonious, expensive battle, but will instead simply involve implementing the agreement you reached years before. 

Since people nowadays often get married at later ages than has historically been the case, you may be entering a marriage with valuable assets, such as a robust retirement account, a budding small business, or a home you own that is continuing to appreciate in value. While assets you acquired before marriage don't automatically become marital property when you marry, their increases in value may become marital property if joint funds are used to improve those assets. Similarly, if one partner enters the marriage with a sizeable debt which increases during the marriage, part of that debt may be attributable to the marriage, as well. Clearly outlining which assets and debts should be allocated to which party in the event of a divorce can eliminate concerns that these assets and debts will become the windfall or burden of a spouse who doesn't deserve it in the event of a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements can also be a way of ensuring that, in the unfortunate event of a divorce, you aren't stuck battling it out in court for months or years. Prenuptial agreements can make a divorce faster and cheaper by laying out the terms of any alimony agreement and the length that alimony payments should last, in addition to how property should be divided when you separate. Keep in mind that, in New Jersey, both future spouses need to have legal representation in order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, even if you both already agree to the essential terms. You should also prepare yourself for a meeting with your attorneys by creating a list of all your assets and debts, and even preparing a tax return, to expedite the process of drawing up an agreement.

A skilled family law attorney can make the creation of a prenuptial agreement a process that leaves each party feeling secure and respected. For a consultation on your prenuptial agreement questions, contact the Morristown law firm of Smith & Doran at 973-292-0016.

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Smith & Gaynor, LLC
60 Washington Street, Suite 302
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2661
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