March 2017 - Getting Married? Here Are Some Legal Facts to Consider

Engagement ring If you have plans to get married, congratulations? It’s an exciting time. And while it should bring only happiness, it’s always good to enter any agreement fully informed.

Do you need a prenuptial agreement? If you or your significant other has a large amount of assets or debts, consider one – it can save expense and emotional anguish later. New Jersey has guidelines regulating these agreements.

Prenups must:

  • Be in writing and signed by both parties
  • Include a statement of assets
  • Be revoked or amended only by written consent of both parties

Prenuptial agreements help determine, before problems arise, the rights and obligations of both spouses with regard to their property and assets, provided the agreements do not violate public policy. This includes rights and obligations to joint and separate property; wills, trusts, insurance death benefits and terms or elimination of spousal support. Prenups cannot, however, determine anything relating to child support or custody matters.

What happens to the ring if the engagement doesn’t work out? People in broken engagements struggle with this question all the time. Here are some facts:

  • New Jersey considers the engagement ring a “conditional gift” – a gift given with the expectation that something (marriage) will take place in exchange.
  • Because it is a conditional gift, the law says the engagement ring is the property of the giver until the expectation is fulfilled.
  • Once the expectation is fulfilled, the ring becomes the property of the recipient.
  • New Jersey courts take a “no fault” approach to broken engagements, meaning it doesn’t matter who called it off or why.
  • If you need to take the return of the ring to court, the ring’s value will determine where you file your complaint.
  • If the ring was altered (new setting, upgraded diamond, etc.) during your marriage, the ring could then be considered by the courts to be joint property and subject to equitable distribution.

Marriage to the right person for the right reasons is wonderful! Having knowledge about some marital legalities beforehand can only help should it not work out.

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