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Wealthy families and prenuptial agreements

Some children in wealthy New Jersey families may feel pressure from their parents to have a prospective spouse sign a prenuptial agreement. Although this is often well meaning, with parents concerned about protecting the family wealth in case of divorce, children may see it as an attack on their future spouse.

A better approach than bringing up a prenup when a child is ready to marry is talking to children about the importance of prenups while they are young adults. By making this an ongoing conversation that occurs before a future spouse has even been introduced to the family, it puts the focus on the preservation of a family legacy and not on any one person.

Another reason parents may want to bring this up earlier is that a prenuptial agreement is part of a broader conversation about money and finances. Financial disclosure is one step of creating a prenup, but for people who are only dealing with this issue prior to marriage, it may be the first time they fully understand the family wealth. A better scenario is to educate children about this beforehand. One precaution parents can take if their children are resistant to a prenup is placing assets in a trust which may offer protection in case of a divorce.

Unfortunately, some prenups are not prepared correctly, or one person may have received insufficient legal counsel, and the agreement could be successfully challenged. If this is the case, or if a couple heads for divorce with no prenuptial agreement, it may still be possible to negotiate a settlement instead of turning to litigation. Even when a great deal of money is at stake, alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, may help a couple reach an accord.

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