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What are some essentials for prenuptial agreements?

When a couple in New Jersey is planning their wedding, they may be consumed with finding the right caterer, florist and venue. However, they should also give some thought to their post-wedding lives before they walk down the aisle, including drafting a prenuptial agreement. Well-drafted prenuptial agreements can expedite property division and other matters should the marriage end in divorce. In addition to the car, house and investments, a prenup should also govern other assets which are often overlooked.

Any property that a spouse owns before marriage needs to be listed as separate property. As such, these assets would not be marital property that may be divided during divorce.

The spouse who received the diamond engagement ring should also identify it as a gift and as their separate property. The ring's value may be determined through an appraisal. The prenup should also identify any other gifts that will be exchanged between spouses to be either separate or marital property.

Small business owners or investors can also identify these interests as separate property in the prenup if these existed before marriage. Any post-marriage increase in value should also be identified as separate property, or it will be considered marital property that both spouses share.

These agreements should list debts existing before marriage, and who is paying it off. If not listed as a separate obligation, a spouse may be liable for debt incurred by their other spouse even before their marriage.

The prenuptial agreement is also helpful when it contains instructions on any pets. It should explain who will take care of the pets and how expenses are divided if there is a divorce. Couples need to make the difficult decision on which spouse receives pet custody if their marriage ends.

More recently, some of these agreements contain a social media clause. These generally restrict the time that a spouse spends on social media. However, these clauses are difficult to enforce and are ambiguous. A social media violation could constitute a violation of the agreement that neither spouse wants to undermine. Therefore, a social media clause may be something not to include in the prenup.

Each spouse should have their own attorney represent them while drafting these agreements and ensure that they comply with New Jersey law. An attorney can help couple identify their assets and eliminate potential future problems at the end of a marriage.

Source: Brides, "The 6 things you're forgetting to include in your prenup (from a divorce lawyer)," Jaimie Mackey, July 29, 2017

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