Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements for New Jersey

Are you about to embark on the exciting journey of marriage, but concerned about protecting your assets and financial future? Are you an entrepreneur who’s worked hard to build your business and wants to ensure its security, no matter what life throws at your marriage? Or perhaps you’re someone who believes in the importance of planning for all possibilities?

Keith Family Law has helped many New Jersey couples craft comprehensive prenuptial agreements for their unique needs. The conversation around prenuptial agreements can be sensitive, but it’s a step that demonstrates foresight, mutual respect, and a commitment to the long-term health of your relationship. Our family law team helps to provide peace of mind to ensure you’re covered financially for every possibility.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement (Prenup)?

A prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a “prenup,” is a legal contract entered into by a couple before they get married or enter into a civil partnership. This document lays out how their assets, debts, and other financial matters would be divided between them if their marriage were to end in divorce or dissolution. It’s essentially a safety net that provides clarity and protection for each party. While it may seem unromantic, a prenuptial agreement can actually strengthen a relationship by encouraging open and honest discussions about finances and future expectations. It’s particularly advisable for those with significant assets, business ownership, or children from previous relationships.

The Benefits

A prenuptial agreement brings numerous benefits that extend beyond the financial aspects. It instills a sense of security and fosters open communication about financial matters, laying the groundwork for a healthy relationship. It offers protection against debts, ensures that personal assets or a family business stay within the family, and safeguards the financial future of children from previous relationships. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, having a prenuptial agreement in place can simplify the process, preventing costly disputes and emotional turmoil.

What Do Prenups Cover?

A prenuptial agreement is not just about protection in the event of divorce but also about setting clear expectations and understanding about financial matters right from the start. Some of the key areas that a prenuptial agreement typically covers include:

  • Division of Property: This outlines how your assets—including real estate, savings, investments, and personal property—would be divided.
  • Debt Protection: A prenup can shield one spouse from being liable for the other’s debt.
  • Business Ownership: It can protect a business owner so that the business isn’t divided or disrupted due to a divorce.
  • Retirement Funds: The agreement can specify how retirement accounts and pensions are split.
  • Spousal Support: Details about alimony, including the amount and duration, can be included in the agreement.
  • Inheritance and Gifts: A prenup can ensure that children from previous relationships inherit certain assets.
  • Financial Responsibilities during Marriage: The agreement can outline who will manage the bills, bank accounts, and other financial matters during the marriage.

Negotiation: A Verbal Dance-Off

Negotiation is a game of give and take – where two or more parties with different needs, goals, or preferences come together to find a mutually agreeable solution.

This informal process doesn’t require any fancy legal procedures or formal documentation. Instead, it’s all about communication. Both parties engage in a friendly exchange of ideas, interests, and proposals to find common ground and strike a deal that works for everyone involved.

Negotiations involve a lot of back-and-forths, with both parties making offers, counteroffers, and concessions. To sweeten the pot, they may also use different negotiation techniques like active listening, reframing, clarifying, and empathizing. It’s like a verbal dance-off but with fewer jazz hands and more legal jargon.

Mediation: A Game of Give-And-Take

What is Divorce Mediation?

Is a Prenuptial Agreement Right for Me?

If you’re on the fence about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few key questions. Your answers will shed light on your financial landscape and can guide your decision-making process:

  1. Do you own any real estate, have retirement funds, or other financial assets?
  2. Do you own all or part of a business?
  3. Does one partner have significantly more wealth than the other?
  4. Do either of you have considerable debt?
  5. Do you plan to step away from a lucrative career to raise children?
  6. Are there children from a previous relationship involved?
  7. Do you want to secure your financial future and avoid potential disputes in case of divorce?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, a prenuptial agreement could be a prudent step for you. With Keith Family Law’s expert guidance, we can help you navigate this process with sensitivity and thoroughness, ensuring your assets are protected and your peace of mind is secured.

Jeff and Haley: Protecting Your Future with a Prenuptial Agreement in New Jersey

Planning to tie the knot? Consider a prenuptial agreement to safeguard your individual interests and assets. Let’s explore a hypothetical scenario involving Jeff and Haley to understand how a prenuptial agreement can be tailored to address their unique situation.

Jeff is a high-earner.  He is divorced and pays alimony to his former spouse.  He has two college-aged children and under his divorce settlement, he is responsible for paying their college tuition.  He owns a home in New Jersey, which he received as part of his divorce settlement.  He also has retirement accounts and a vintage car collection.

Haley is a successful businesswoman with her own design business in New York City, which she started with her father who is also a partner.  She has no other assets in her name alone except for a checking account, which she uses to pay bills.

If they get married, Haley wants to be sure that she is not financially responsible for Jeff’s alimony payments or his obligation to pay college tuition for his children.  Jeff wants to protect his home in New Jersey and his car collection, and make sure Haley doesn’t gain any interest in them if they divorce.  Haley wants to retain her interest in the family business as her separate property, believing it will continue to grow, and doesn’t want Jeff to have any claim to it if they divorce.  Haley also wants a structured approach to alimony if they divorce, and Jeff wants a cap on the duration and amount of any alimony payments that would be made to Haley.

Jeff and Haley each hired attorneys and properly disclosed their financial information to each other as required under New Jersey law to make their Prenuptial Agreement binding.  Over time and through their attorneys they calmly negotiated a customized Prenuptial Agreement, which helped them both air their concerns and feel protected and more comfortable and stress-free entering into their marriage. 

Here are the ideas they explored.

  1. Separate Property Protection: The prenuptial agreement specified that Jeff’s home in New Jersey and his vintage car collection remains his separate property, not subject to division in the event of divorce. This ensures that Haley doesn’t have a claim on the property.
  2. Business Protection: Haley protected her design business by stating in the prenuptial agreement that the business assets and income generated during the marriage are her separate property.
  3. Alimony Arrangement: Jeff and Haley agreed to a sliding scale for alimony payments, linked to the number of years they have been married. The prenup specified that Jeff will pay alimony for a limited duration, with decreasing amounts over time:
  • $50,000 for the first two years
  • $40,000 for the next year
  • $30,000 for the next year
  • And so on until alimony reaches zero.

Jeff and Haley recognized many benefits from their Prenuptial Agreement.

Asset Protection: Jeff and Haley’s Prenuptial Agreement clearly outlined which assets are separate and which are marital, protecting individual property from division during divorce.

Business Preservation: The Prenuptial Agreement allows Haley, as a business owner, to safeguard her business interests from being subject to division in divorce proceedings, which can be very emotional and disruptive to the business.

Financial Clarity: The Prenuptial Agreement offers Jeff and Haley financial transparency, helping them understand their rights and responsibilities during the marriage and in the event of divorce.

Alimony Terms: Jeff and Haley’s Prenuptial Agreement established structured alimony terms, preventing costly legal disputes in the future.

Jeff and Haley’s Prenuptial Agreement provided them with the peace of mind they needed, allowing them to enter their marriage with a clear understanding of how their finances and assets will be managed in case of divorce, and allowing their relationship to grow and perhaps never need the Prenuptial Agreement. 

Reach Out to Keith Family Law Today

It’s essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney in New Jersey to draft a legally sound and fair prenuptial agreement that meets your specific needs and concerns.

Invest in Certainty: Let Keith Family Law Guide Your Prenuptial Journey in NJ

Ready to safeguard your financial future and start your marriage on solid ground? Based in New Jersey, the Keith Family Law team is experienced and ready to guide you through every step of constructing your prenuptial agreement in New Jersey. We provide family law services and support to spouses all over NJ, including:

  • Union County
  • Essex County
  • Middlesex County
  • Warren County
  • Hunterdon County
  • Morris County
  • Hudson County
  • Bergen County
  • Monmouth County

Prepping for Your Divorce

What Steps Should You Take Before Filing for Divorce?

Documents You Will Need For A Divorce

Before you even think about pulling the trigger on your divorce, you better have all your ducks in a row. That means getting your hands on some paperwork (Woohoo! Paperwork! Yay!). Here’s a checklist of some of the things you’ll need:

  • Financial documents, like your tax returns, bank statements, and investment account statements going back several months (gotta know where that cash is at, honey – and where it might have gone)
  • Real estate documents, including mortgage statements and property deeds (because who doesn’t want to argue over who gets to keep the house?)
  • Retirement account statements (it’s never too early to start planning for that midlife crisis)
  • Insurance policies, including health, auto, and life insurance policies (in case life decides to throw yet another curve ball your way. *Sigh*)
  • Debt statements, including credit card statements and loan documents (because let’s be honest- we’re all in debt, right?!)

Make sure you have all of these documents and keep them organized. If you’re not sure what you need, don’t worry. Our team of experts will help you create a list of the necessary documents and guide you through the process of getting them.

Dream Big: Make Your Life Plan (Yes, Right Now)

During a divorce, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and forget about your life goals. But taking a moment to dream big and plan for your future makes a world of difference. It might feel like the last thing you want to do, but trust us, it’s crucial.

Think about where you want to be in your career, what kind of lifestyle you want, and how you want to spend your time. Also, don’t forget about your relationships with loved ones. Having a clear plan for your post-divorce life helps you make better decisions and regain a sense of control. So, it’s time to put on your dreaming cap and start planning for the future you want!

The Littles: Create a Plan for Custody and Parenting Time

We get it, your munchkins are your world, and that’s why hashing out custody and parenting time with your ex can, well… suck! Crafting a solid parenting plan is key to ensuring your littles’ needs are front and center. Who’s bunking where, when can they chill with each parent, and how will big decisions be made? We’ll guide you through every step of the way so that your kids’ needs always come first. Because, honestly, these are grown-up problems, and we want your kids to have as smooth of a ride as possible.

Learn About Child Support & Custody

Don’t Jump the Gun: Practical To-Do’s Before You File Your Complaint

While we’d like to think both parties will always treat each other with respect, that is too often not the case. Even if you are doing everything right, your ex may take advantage of the situation at hand, either out of anger, sadness, or who knows. What’s important is that you protect yourself and CYA (cover your *ss)! Here’s how:

  • Take stock of your assets and debts: Think of it like a Marie Kondo-style inventory, but instead of deciding what brings you joy, you’re deciding what belongs to who. Make a list and gather relevant documents.
  • Check your credit report: It’s like an x-ray for your financial health. Make sure you’re aware of any outstanding debts or other issues that need to be addressed.
  • Open your own bank account: It’s time to manage your own dough. Consider opening a separate bank account in your name only.
  • Open your own credit card account: Time to open your own darn credit card account! Because nothing says “I’m over you” quite like swiping your very own credit card with reckless abandon.
  • Update your estate plan: Let’s make sure your will, power of attorney, and healthcare directive reflect your new situation.


Keep in mind that every divorce is unique. That’s why it’s important to speak with your attorney before taking any major steps. We want to ensure you’re making the best decisions for YOU.

How to Negotiate Your Amicable Divorce

So, you and your partner are actually getting along for once, and you’re ready to file for an uncontested divorce. Congrats, you’re basically relationship unicorns! As we’ve mentioned before, this is often a way smoother and cheaper process than many alternatives.

Say What You Want: Make a Proposal for Settlement

The first step is to make a proposal for settlement. Think of this as your big chance to lay out all the juicy details of how you want to split assets and debts and set up custody, child support, and alimony (if applicable).

This proposal should outline the terms of the divorce, including how assets and debts will be divided and any arrangements for child custodychild support, and alimony. The proposal should be comprehensive and detailed but also flexible enough to allow for negotiation and compromise. You should be prepared to make concessions in order to reach a mutually agreeable outcome. If you’re like, “what?” it’s okay- your lawyer will guide you through this process.

Make a Few Compromises: It Takes Two to Tango

Once you’ve put your cards on the table, the negotiation dance begins. This is where you and your partner volley offers and counteroffers back and forth until you come to a happy middle ground. It can be a bit like playing volleyball, except instead of a ball, you’re lobbing terms and conditions at each other. This means being open to compromise and considering the needs and concerns of both parties.

Sign the Dotted Line: The Marital Settlement Agreement

You and your spouse are like Batman and Robin, working together to save the day…or at least make your divorce process a little smoother (you’re obviously Batman). Now that you’ve come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce, the next step is to sign a marital settlement agreement (MSA). Think of an MSA as a friendship contract but with legal weight. This document will spell out the nitty-gritty details of your divorce, including what’s happening with the littles, money, and other assets. Once both of you have put your John Hancocks on the MSA, it becomes a binding agreement that will be submitted to the court as part of your divorce case. It’s like a fancy high-five to celebrate your successful negotiation skills!

Hold On Tight: Filing for Divorce Is One Wild Ride!

The First Step Towards Moving On

You need to find yourself a reliable lawyer who will have your back throughout the legal circus, even if it’s “just an uncontested.” And trust me, you’ll want someone who knows the ins and outs of the system because this ain’t gonna be a walk in the park.

When you sit down with your lawyer, they’ll give you the lowdown on what it takes to file for divorce in the great state of New Jersey. They’ll also help you get your ducks in a row by gathering all the important documents you’ll need.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, my friend. Once your divorce complaint is filed, you’ll need to be ready for court appearances and negotiations, which is where your lawyer will really come in handy.

No Drama Allowed: Navigating Uncontested Divorce Like a Pro

First things first, you’ll need to file a Complaint for Divorce with your Settlement Agreement attached, which outlines all the terms you and your ex have agreed upon. Don’t worry, your lawyer will prepare this bad boy for you, making sure you’re dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s on all your documents.

Then there is a bit of legal back-and-forth, including getting your ex served with the court-filed papers (yes, even in an “uncontested” divorce), and then filing more papers to prove that you did it. Don’t worry, your lawyer has your back on this one, too. Then, your ex has to file their papers, too, and serve the papers on you in the same way (yes, even in an “uncontested” divorce).

Assuming the court accepts your Complaint and Settlement (fingers crossed), you’ll have a hearing before the Judge and be granted a Final Judgment of Divorce, complete with all the juicy details of your divorce agreement.

Now, before you go thinking you don’t need a lawyer for this because it’s all sunshine and rainbows, let me stop you right there. It’s still crucial to have a fierce lawyer in your corner, fighting for your rights and making sure everything is legally sound. Last thing you want is to have your petition rejected or dismissed, and to have to go through this all over again.

When Negotiations Fail: What Happens If Your Case Is Contested?

Well, well, well, looks like negotiations didn’t exactly go as planned. Cue the courtroom drama because a contested divorce means it’s time to call in the big guns.

When it comes to custody, support, and property division, the court will be considering all kinds of factors, like the duration of your marriage, your age and health, and the standard of living you established together. It’s like a high-stakes game of chess, and you need a lawyer who knows how to make all the right moves.

We know that when your case is headed to court, having an experienced divorce lawyer by your side is crucial. We’re here to be your fierce advocates, protecting your rights and fighting for your interests every step of the way.

We understand that the legal process can be overwhelming and stressful, but with our extensive knowledge and expertise, we’ll help you prepare for court appearances and negotiations. We’ll make sure the court considers all relevant factors when making decisions about your case. So take a deep breath and trust us to guide you through this difficult time with the expertise and compassion you deserve.

The Nine Circles of Hell: The Contested Divorce Case

Ah, the nine circles of hell, otherwise known as a contested divorce case. When you’re in the middle of a contested divorce, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of anger, frustration, and sadness. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your head above water.

But fear not, my friends, because your lawyer is here to be your safe harbor through the storm. They know how to navigate the legal and emotional challenges of a contested divorce like a pro. They’ll help you develop a strategy for negotiation and litigation, and they’ll make sure your interests are protected every step of the way. With the right lawyer by your side, you WILL get through this.

Finalizing the Divorce

Once you and your ex have agreed on the terms of the divorce settlement, it’s time to submit it to the court for approval. The judge will scrutinize the agreement to make sure it’s all above board and doesn’t leave either party high and dry. Assuming everything looks hunky-dory, the judge will enter a final judgment of divorce, aka the divorce decree. It’s like getting an official stamp of approval on your newfound independence.

But hold up! Before you start popping bottles of bubbly, you’ll need to update your legal documents and financial accounts to reflect your single status. This means changing your name (if you’re ditching the old ball and chain’s last name), updating your will, and making sure your insurance policies are up-to-date. Trust us, the last thing you want is for your ex to cash in on that sweet life insurance policy you forgot to update.

Modifying or Enforcing the Settlement Agreement

Ah, the joys of life. Just when you thought your divorce was finally over, life throws you a curveball. Maybe you lost your job, or your ex found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Whatever the reason, if your circumstances have changed since your divorce settlement, you might need to modify the agreement.

If you and your ex can agree on the changes, that’s great. You can submit a request to the court to modify the settlement agreement. But if you can’t agree, it’s time to put on your battle armor and head back to court.

Now, modifying a settlement agreement is no walk in the park. It’s complicated, messy, and just plain exhausting. That’s why you need a seasoned lawyer by your side to help you navigate this treacherous terrain.

And if your ex is not playing nice and complying with the terms of the settlement agreement, it’s time to take action. You might need to file a motion with the court to force them to get their act together and stick to the agreement. Don’t let them get away with breaking their promises – fight for what’s rightfully yours.

Keith Family Law: Your Safe Harbor Through the Storm

At Keith Family Law, we’re not just here to help with the legal mumbo-jumbo (though we’re pretty darn good at that – if we do say so ourselves). We’re here to support you emotionally and make sure you come out the other side with your rights, interests, and reputation intact.

Our team of lawyers is filled with no-nonsense negotiators and fierce litigators, ready to protect your interests. We’ll work with you to figure out what you want to achieve and come up with a strategy to make it happen.

But here’s the real kicker: we actually care about you. Yeah, you heard us right. We’re not just some emotionless suits churning out cases. We understand that every divorce is unique, and we’re here to hear your concerns and answer your questions.

So, if you’re looking for some straight-shooting, no-BS attorneys who will stop at nothing to get you the results you deserve, then Keith Family Law is the team for you. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and just plain over it, let us be your rock. We’ll go the extra mile to ensure that your rights are protected, your needs are met, and that you walk away from your legal battle feeling like a total boss. Let’s do this thing.

Ready to embark on a journey of divorce?

Get Ready with a checklist to help you prepare.

Every end is a new beginning

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