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Keeping assets separate without a prenuptial agreement

| May 13, 2015 | Family Law |

While prenuptial agreements are a way to protect one’s assets in case of a divorce, couples are not always able to agree about using this tool or one partner may fear bringing the subject up. There are ways to safeguard separate assets in case of a divorce, though this requires being careful during the marriage, and those planning to tie the knot in New Jersey may wish to discuss whether one of these alternatives or a prenuptial agreement is best for them.

Even those who decide on a prenuptial agreement may be confused when it comes to one partner’s business that existed before a marriage. The business is separate property, but a spouse might be given some of the appreciated value of a business. If one has a business appraised around when a marriage begins, the other partner could only get half the value during the time the marriage lasted. However, other conflicts may arise if the spouse worked at or otherwise contributed to the business during the marriage.

Similarly, one might be able to keep the amount of money in any retirement accounts before a marriage by producing a statement showing the assets in the account when the marriage started. This could limit the amount of divisible assets, so it is important to keep old statements.

Generally, any assets belonging to one partner before a marriage are considered separate property along with gifts or inheritances. However, it is fairly easily for separate property to become joint property over the course of a marriage if it is commingled with marital assets. When disputes about property division occur, a family law mediator may be able to help a couple reach a settlement agreement.

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