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Voiding a Prenuptial Agreement in NJ: Is It Possible?

Woman signing prenuptial agreement in court

Prenuptial or premarital agreements establish certain terms in advance of marriage that may be enforced during the marriage or upon divorce. The parties can dictate in advance, for example, how marital assets will be split, or how alimony will be set. New Jersey courts will usually enforce valid prenuptial agreements. But what if the prenup is unfair? Does the burdened spouse have any relief? Continue reading for a discussion of prenups in New Jersey and under what circumstances they can be voided. For help negotiating, drafting, enforcing, or invalidating a prenup, call a savvy New Jersey premarital agreement attorney.

Requirements for a Valid Prenup

Valid prenuptial agreements are generally enforced in New Jersey. In order to be enforceable, the prenup must be validly executed. In New Jersey, to be valid, the prenup must generally satisfy the following conditions:

  • The agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and duly notarized.
  • The parties must each fully disclose their financial assets.
  • The parties must each have their own independent legal counsel to advise them on the agreement.
  • The parties must agree to the prenup voluntarily.
  • The parties must have sufficient time to review the terms of the prenup before the marriage.

Under certain circumstances, a prenup can be voided by the court. We discuss those reasons below.

Grounds for Voiding a Prenup

In New Jersey, courts will usually enforce a validly executed prenuptial agreement. A court may be convinced to invalidate a prenup, however, under certain circumstances. Grounds for voiding a prenup in New Jersey include:

The prenup was not validly executed. If any of the conditions discussed above are not met, the prenup can be voided. For example, if the agreement was not put into writing or if one party did not sign, then the agreement isn’t valid.

The parties lacked legal counsel. Each party is guaranteed the right to their own legal counsel in negotiating and executing a prenup. If both parties used the same lawyer, there’s a conflict of interest. If one party didn’t have a lawyer, there’s too much of a chance that they were taken advantage of in the negotiations. In either case, the court may throw out either some or all of the prenup.

The agreement was deceptive. For a prenup to be valid, both parties must disclose all of their financial assets and holdings. If one party hid significant assets or income, the other party might have grounds to claim they were deceived into signing the agreement.

The agreement was not voluntary. A prenup can be invalidated if one party’s signing was not truly “voluntary.” If one party was forced to sign the agreement under duress–such as under the threat of physical, financial, reputational, or emotional harm–the agreement may be invalid. The party seeking to invalidate has the burden of showing coercion.

The prenup was signed too close to the wedding. Parties must be given sufficient time to review the terms of the agreement before signing. If one party sprung the prenup on the other the night before the wedding, the agreement might not be valid.

One or both parties lacked legal capacity. An agreement is only valid if all parties possess the legal capacity to sign. If one party lacked mental capacity due to intoxication, injury, or illness, then they did not have the legal capacity to enter into the agreement. Minors under the age of 18 may also lack the capacity to sign a prenup.

The prenup includes unenforceable terms. Specific terms of a prenup might not be enforced, even if the agreement is otherwise valid. A prenup cannot preemptively decide child custody upon divorce, for example, nor can a prenup call for illegal activity or dictate daily, non-financial activity, such as an intimacy schedule.

The prenup includes unconscionable or unfair terms. A court could throw out a prenup if it is overly one-sided and clearly unfair to one party. For example, a court will likely not enforce a prenup that entirely denies a lower-earning spouse any alimony or gives most or all valuable marital assets to one party.

Get Knowledgeable Legal Help for Your New Jersey Prenuptial Agreement

If you have questions about a prenuptial agreement, or if you are dealing with child custody, child support, divorce, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Law Office of John B. D’Alessandro in Union to discuss your concerns. From temporary orders for child support while your divorce case is underway to final orders or post-divorce modification motions, our thorough and dedicated family law attorney is here to advise and represent you.

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