New Jersey Reconciliation Agreements
Mending your marriage after you and your spouse hit a rough spot can be challenging, particularly if your partner’s infidelity caused the problems. You may have difficulty trusting your spouse and wonder whether it is in your best interests to give the relationship another chance.
As an experienced family law lawyer can explain to you, a New Jersey reconciliation agreement is intended to help a couple heal their marriage after a separation. While similar to prenuptial and postnuptial contracts, these agreements have certain unique characteristics. It is helpful to fully understand the rights and responsibilities reconciliation agreements provide as you make decisions regarding the future of your marriage.
What is a Reconciliation Agreement?
A reconciliation agreement is a type of postnuptial agreement, meaning the parties execute it when they are already married. Spouses typically enter these legally binding contracts to delineate how their assets and liabilities will be distributed if their marriage ends. The motivation for a reconciliation contract is the couple’s desire to mend their marriage.
In many situations where couples execute reconciliation agreements, one spouse has announced their intention to divorce or may have already filed divorce pleadings. In an effort to repair the relationship, the other spouse may offer certain financial guarantees in a reconciliation agreement on the terms that the spouse seeking the divorce will resume the marriage. For example, the offending spouse may offer to waive their interest in the marital home should the parties divorce at some point in the future.
The Enforceability of Reconciliation Contracts in New Jersey
State law favors the preservation of marriage. As such, judges will uphold reconciliation agreements as long as they are “fair and equitable.” Judges must consider several criteria when determining a reconciliation agreement’s enforceability, including:
- If each spouse was committed to resuming their marriage at a time when their marital problems were substantial
- Whether the circumstances surrounding the parties’ execution of the agreement were fair
- If the contract’s terms were fair when the parties signed it
- Whether the spouse seeking enforcement of the agreement acted in good faith toward the other party when the contract was executed
- Whether circumstances have changed since the couple signed the contract such that it would be inequitable or unjust to enforce it
A New Jersey reconciliation agreement must be fair, both at the time it was executed and when it is enforced. A family law attorney with experience handling reconciliation contracts can work with a spouse to ensure that their agreement is enforceable under state law.
The Element of Consideration in a Reconciliation Contract
Generally, when parties enter into contracts, they give ‘consideration’ for the contract, which is a promise to exchange something of value, like money. In marital contracts, the consideration for the agreement is the marriage itself.
New Jersey reconciliation agreements differ somewhat from other marital contracts in that the consideration is their promise to remain married. Additionally, one spouse might agree to withdraw their pending divorce complaint in exchange for some promise of value from the other party. For example, the offending spouse might agree to pay an increased amount of alimony if they are unfaithful again and their infidelity results in marriage dissolution.
The more specific a reconciliation agreement’s terms, the more likely a judge will enforce it. A capable family law attorney can draft a contract that details what caused the marital rift and why the spouses believe a reconciliation agreement is appropriate in their situation.
Learn More about Reconciliation Agreements from a Knowledgeable New Jersey Family Law Attorney
Reconciliation agreements can benefit a couple by helping them save their marriage after a significant breach of trust. By entering into this type of postnuptial contract, one spouse may give up a legal right or offer another kind of financial incentive in exchange for the other spouse’s promise to stay married and work on the couple’s relationship.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your marriage and wondering how best to protect yourself if you do decide to forego divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance. The legal team at Moskowitz Law Group is well-versed in New Jersey reconciliation agreements and can help you determine whether one might be beneficial for you. Call today to get started.