- March 7, 2023
File Under: Pre-Nuptial Agreements
How a Prenuptial Agreement Can Reduce Premarital Anxiety
A recent survey of divorce attorneys conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers indicated a sharp increase in prenups over the last decade. The AAML research showed the largest increase among millennials, which is in line with other data available. Surveys of marrying millennials indicate that the stigma is not the same among that demographic and that they tend to recognize benefits beyond just financial protection, including reduced premarital anxiety.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
“Prenup” is a colloquial term for a prenuptial agreement. In New Jersey, they are often called “premarital agreements,” and they are also referred to as “antenuptial” agreements in other parts of the country. Regardless of the terminology, it is a contract between two people that is signed prior to a marriage and dictates what will happen to each party’s premarital assets and debts should that couple ever divorce.
Divorce lawyers recommend prenuptial agreements not only as a means of protecting yourself in the event of a divorce but as a planning tool that can provide you a roadmap to a healthy partnership moving forward.
How They Are Dealt With in New Jersey
The rules regarding these agreements in New Jersey are established by the Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act. This statute indicates what you can include in the agreement and what criteria it needs to meet. The concept is further elaborated on in two other statutes, which are the Divorce and Nullity of Marriage Act and the Marriages Act.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. That means that in the case of divorce assets and debts are not divided equally by a judge but rather in an equitable manner. The goal of this approach is to distribute assets and debts in a manner that is fair to both spouses.
However, if the couple cannot agree on what is fair, it is a judge who will make that determination. A prenuptial agreement, therefore, is an opportunity to come to an accord prior to marriage and avoid having these decisions made by a judge.
What Can You Include in a Prenuptial Agreement?
According to the statute discussed above, a prenuptial agreement can include provisions related to:
- Property distribution
- Property rights and obligations
- The making of wills, trusts and other arrangements
- Life insurance rights and distribution
- Choice of law governing the construction of the agreement
- Any other matter as long as it does not violate public policy
Public policy refers to social law. The purpose of that rule is to avoid dictating social aspects of the marriage. You could not, for instance, agree that one spouse will be responsible for doing the dishes while the other has to clear the table and take the trash out. It can also not discuss family issues like childbearing or childrearing. A prenup is meant to focus on the financial aspects.
What Is Required to Officialize a Prenup in New Jersey?
In order to make a prenuptial agreement binding in New Jersey, both parties must enter into it voluntarily and must fully disclose all of their respective assets and debts. The agreement must be in writing.
While it is not required to consult with a divorce lawyer, it is highly recommended. A lawyer will ensure that the contract is fair within the confines of the law. This will not only increase the likelihood of approval but make it unlikely that a judge would later set it aside.
The Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement
There are numerous benefits to a prenuptial agreement, and many divorce attorneys believe that greater awareness about these is what is driving the trend.
Family lawyers agree that divorces involving a prenuptial agreement are often less expensive and time-consuming and entail litigation at a much lower rate than those without. In addition, many who divorce without one regret not having had such an agreement in place.
The benefits of such an agreement extend beyond protecting premarital assets in the event of a divorce. It’s also important to note that the protection provided can extend beyond the spouses to their families and business associates. A prenuptial agreement can be the final determinant in:
- Asset values
- Alimony terms
- Waiver of alimony
- Business interests
- Distribution of investments
- Distribution of financial securities
Another significant point is that the benefits can extend beyond financial matters, and that is not only according to family law attorneys but therapists and other mental health professionals who specialize in marriage. In fact, premarital counselors recommend a prenup as a way to reduce premarital anxiety.
How a Prenuptial Agreement Can Reduce Premarital Anxiety
Both family lawyers and premarital counselors stress that premarital anxiety is normal and to be expected and is not a reflection of how you may feel about the other person, which is how many people interpret it.
Finances are a big concern among engaged couples, and how to handle money can be a difficult topic to bring up and discuss. A benefit of a prenuptial agreement is that it requires the couple to have those conversations and to come to an accord either on their own or with the assistance of a mediator.
A lot of premarital anxiety is caused by fear of the unknown and fear of losing control. A prenuptial agreement will force you to consider what may happen but will also provide you with answers to those questions. It will also give you peace of mind by dictating in writing exactly how you will have control and what your options will be. The process will also help you to separate legitimate concerns about your future from the symptoms of the relationship OCD that many engaged people experience.
Other Ways to Manage Premarital Anxiety
Therapy is a powerful tool, and therapists recommend beginning premarital counseling as soon as you’re considering marriage. Furthermore, it’s recommended to attend counseling both as an individual and as a couple because both approaches will involve different focuses.
Many of the symptoms of relationship OCD brought on through the anticipation of getting married can be eliminated or at least mitigated through therapy and the tools your therapist provides you. A self-care routine is important as well. Getting married is stressful, and you’ll better be able to manage that stress by:
- Balancing your diet
- Exercising regularly
- Pampering and treating yourself
- Delegating to your support network
Legal Assistance for Prenuptial Agreements
If you are planning on getting married and are considering a prenuptial agreement, the New Jersey family law attorneys at Lawrence Law are here to assist you. Our law firm has extensive experience with them, and we’d welcome the opportunity to answer any questions that you may have and help you consider your options within the context of your unique situation.
If you would like to schedule a consultation, we have an office in Watchung and another in Red Bank, and you can reach us by calling 908-645-1000 or through the contact form on our website.