Own a home, but haven’t yet tied the knot? What you need to know to protect your pre-marital interests.
Protecting assets that one acquires prior to marriage is a concern that any person would have before saying “I do.” Typically, acquiring a home is the largest purchase of an individual’s life, it is important to consider the impact marriage has on the ownership interest of a home. The best way to protect a home purchased prior to the marriage is to enter into a pre-marital agreement. Pre-marital agreements dictate how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. Therefore, such an agreement can clearly dictate that certain assets are pre-marital and exempt from distribution in a divorce. First and foremost, pre-marital agreements must be reached by the mutual consent of marrying spouses. In order for the agreement to be enforceable, both parties must come to settlement on the terms set forth in the agreement. In doing so it is critical that both individuals be provided the opportunity to (1) consult with an attorney; (2) receive full disclosure as it relates to either parties’ assets, liabilities, and financial status; (3) enter into the agreement voluntarily and (4) ensure that the agreement is not unconscionable. So long as a pre-marital agreement is properly executed in this manner, it should be held valid and enforceable. The making of such agreements “should be encouraged by the courts, to the extent that the parties have developed comprehensive and particularized agreements responsive to their peculiar circumstances.” The use of these agreements are an effective tool in protecting an individual’s pre-marital properties in the event of divorce. It should be something that anyone with ownership in a home should consider prior to entering into marriage. If you are in a situation where you are unsure of how to proceed, it is wise to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to assist you in understanding how pre-marital agreements could benefit you.
The law firm of Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C., is composed of experienced attorneys throughout the states of New Jersey and Delaware. Please contact the office for a free initial consultation and get any questions answered regarding your specific case.