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Mid Marriage/Mid Nuptial Agreements

Mid Marriage / Mid Nuptial Agreements

Mid-marital agreements are agreements made during the marriage, which outline how property will be divided during a divorce. In New Jersey, premarital agreements are more frequently used and upheld than mid- marital agreements. Mid-marital agreements are agreements made during the marriage, which outline how property will be divided during a divorce.  

What is the difference between a mid-marital agreement and a prenuptial agreement?

Premarital agreements are made before a couple is married.  The future husband or wife drafts a premarital agreement and provides it to his or her future spouse, through their respective attorneys. The intended spouse then has the agreement reviewed by his or her attorney and makes any changes.  After the agreement is negotiated, the terms are altered, and both parties execute the agreement meets certain requirements, the contract is complete. Essentially, a prenuptial agreement limits the potential outcomes in the event of a divorce.  

Unlike premarital agreements, mid-marital agreements are drafted while the parties are already married, not before.  Much like prenuptial agreements, these types of agreements govern how the finances will be handled upon divorce. These types of agreements are not as common premarital agreements in New Jersey and the courts may be less inclined to follow such agreements.  

Difficulties in mid-marital agreements

Many cases involving mid-marital agreements involve a couple who is experiencing some change in the marriage.  There may be a negative change in the emotional or financial status of the relationship; therefore, the transaction is more emotionally charged than a premarital agreement.  In other words, the parties are in the middle of a marriage where something has occurred sparking some quest for change. Usually, one party is less desirous of ending the marriage than the other or one person has more authority or control than the other.  This means that the parties are not on equal footing, as they are in a prenuptial agreement. 

As a result, one party can feel coerced or forced into signing an agreement. For this reason, the courts will look at the agreements and determine what was occurring at the time of the agreement before they ultimately decide whether it should be upheld.  The agreement, if upheld, will direct what will occur upon termination of the marriage. Court’s will look to the facts of the case to determine if the agreement was fair at the time it was made and review prior case law when making decisions concerning current cases before them.  One such case referred to by New Jersey Courts is Pacelli v. Pacelli. 

In the Pacelli v. Pacelli case, the court was faced with deciding whether a mid-marital agreement made between a husband and wife was fair.  In this case, the couple married in 1975, signed a mid-marital agreement in 1986, and divorced in 1994. The couple had 2 children during the marriage and the husband suggested that she sign the agreement.  The agreement was such that the wife would receive $500,000 upon divorce. At the time of the agreement, the husband was worth 4.7 million dollars. This was substantially more than he was worth at the beginning of the marriage, which was 1.7 million.  After the divorce, the husband was worth 11 million. 

In reviewing the circumstances at the time of the mid-marital agreement, the court found that it was not fair.  As a result, the agreement was not enforced. Today, the courts will look at whether mid-marital agreements were fair when entered into.  As was the case in Pacelli v. Pacelli, it may be harder to prove that something was fair when the economic differences between the parties are vast. 

Contact an Experienced Mid-Marital Attorney Today

If you live in towns throughout Ocean County towns and if you are contemplating drafting or signing a mid-marital agreement or wish to enforce or fight such agreement, do not do it alone.  

At The Law Offices of Jacobs Berger, we aware that handling family law related-matters may a difficult and emotionally draining process. On top of that, sometimes these types of cases are complex and very challenging to navigate on your own. If you have questions or doubts about your divorcepremarital agreementschild custody, or another family law issue, we invite you to speak with a member of our Family Law Practice.

Our New Jersey family law-experienced lawyers will invest the time to walk with you the challenges you may be facing. Contact us today at (973) 354-4551 to schedule a consultation or visit our online form.