Agreements that are made are not easily changed. The Courts will enforce the Agreement if there was full and fair disclosure and it was knowingly entered into.
Often Pre-Nuptial Agreements are made very close to the wedding date. The parties may have known each other for a long period of time and the wedding is planned and paid for, but the Pre-Nuptial Agreement issue has not been raised until the marriage is imminent. In order for the Agreement to hold up, each party much have been represented by counsel. There has to be full disclosure of assets and liabilities and there must be evidence that the parties entered into the Agreement knowingly and willingly.
A recent case involved an Appeal by the Wife on a Pre-Nuptial Agreement executed nine days before the marriage. Twenty-two years later when the marriage was failing, she tried to claim that the Pre-Nuptial Agreement was not entered into with full and fair disclosure. The Court ruled that the Agreement was enforceable. The attorneys who prepared the Pre-Nuptial Agreement had numerous telephone conversations about the terms of the Agreement and she could not present evidence that she entered into it without full disclosure.
After twenty-two years, the Agreement may be giving her less than what she would be entitled to today. No matter. She agreed to it. When parties divorce, their settlement agreement can say that if future disputes arise they will not first resort to the Court to handle the dispute but go to Mediation first. A dispute arises and one party moves before the Court for relief. Unless it is a true emergency, the Court will not hear the issue and will order the parties to attend the mediation they agreed to.
Public policy favors settlement of disputes and the stability of matrimonial agreements.
It is very important that a person know the terms of the Agreement. Agreements are not easily changed. It is critically important to understand that you will have to live with the terms of a Contract. They should be entered into only after considering fully and with advice of counsel.
For a consultation call Tanya N. Helfand, Esq. at 973-539-1000. Ms. Helfand handles all aspects of Family Law.
Tanya N. Helfand, Esq. is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney, a Mediator and Panelist in the Morris and Essex County ESP Programs. The firm welcomes your questions and inquiries at [email protected]. We handle cases in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Hudson, Union, Somerset, Sussex and other New Jersey counties.