Valid vs. Invalid Prenuptial Agreements in NJ

What Makes a Prenup Invalid in New Jersey?In New Jersey, before couples decide to tie the knot, they may decide to have an arrangement in place to dictate their affairs if the marriage gets dissolved. Prenuptial obviously means before the nuptials. Nuptials relate to weddings or having to do with marriage. This agreement takes place before the marriage.

Identifying a Valid Prenuptial Agreement in NJ

For a prenuptial agreement to be valid there are several things that must happen. Both parties must have signed the agreement in front of a notary. They must know exactly what they are signing and be competent enough to understand the depth and weight of the document. The document must also be equally fair to both parties, as well as signed before the marriage.

Common Factors that Void Prenups in New Jersey

Let’s say there is a couple that is getting married, but the wife has many more assets than the soon-to-be husband. The wife wants to enter into a prenuptial agreement with her fiancée, but the fiancée does not want to sign the agreement.

The wife may threaten the husband with canceling the wedding after they both invested a lot of time and money into the wedding if her fiancée doesn’t sign. Or the wife may have her brother hurt her fiancée or threaten to hurt him. If the soon-to-be husband signs because of these threats, this prenuptial agreement can later be challenged in case of a divorce.

Let us now say that one party has an attorney, or neither party has an attorney. They may later challenge the agreement on the account that they do not understand the terms of what they are agreeing to. Likewise, if the parties get drunk or high one night and decide to sign a prenuptial agreement the prenuptial agreement can later be challenged since the parties to the agreement were not in their right mind when executing the agreement.

Lastly, and most importantly, any agreement that dictates how child support or child custody will be determined in the case of a separation are per se invalid. These agreements are against public policy because what matters is not what the parties agree on but what is in the best interest of the child.

Why do Prenuptial Agreements get Challenged during Divorce?

There are several reasons a prenuptial agreement can be challenged during a divorce. These reasons include whether the agreement was entered into voluntarily. As with all contracts, if a party is coerced physically, or by threat of physical or financial duress, the contract entered is not valid. Another way to challenge a prenuptial agreement is if the contract is unconscionable, meaning that the agreement is so obviously one-sided that it “shocks the conscience” of the court. Courts will not enforce prenuptial agreements that are largely in favor of one party.

If either party did not have an attorney at the time that the prenuptial agreement was entered into, that may also be grounds for contesting the validity of the prenuptial agreement. This is mostly because without an attorney it may be difficult for the person entering into the agreement to fully understand what they are agreeing too. Lastly, if at the time the agreement was entered into, either party did not fully disclose to the best of their ability all of their assets and debts, the prenuptial agreement is invalid.

Voiding a Prenuptial Agreement After the Spouse’s Death

Prenuptial agreements are a useful tool in controlling your assets upon your death, which would obviously dissolve the marriage. For a spouse to be disinherited, or prevented from claiming the assets of the deceased, the spouse must agree and elect to waive their rights under the prenuptial agreement.

What Makes a Prenup Invalid in New Jersey

Factors that Invalidate Prenuptial Agreements in NJ The possibility of invalidating a prenuptial agreement is how the agreement can be contested. The first reason that a prenuptial agreement can be invalidated is that the agreement was not voluntary. No contract is valid if it was not voluntary.


A contract cannot be valid if the agreement was entered into too close to the wedding in which case one of the parties may be pressured into signing. If a party to the agreement is pregnant, and the other party threatens not to go through with the marriage unless the agreement is executed, this can be considered duress.


If one of the parties have been deceptive, or their assets and/or debts have not been fully and honestly disclosed, or the other party was induced to sign on false pretenses, the agreement can easily be invalidated.


Obviously, any threats of physical violence, emotional threats, or actual physical violence in exchange for the party to sign the agreement is reason to invalidate the agreement.

Mentally Incapacitated

Being of the right mind and sound body is a requirement for valid contracts. The party must have been legally old enough to enter into the agreement, not intoxicated whatsoever, and was not negatively affected by illness or injury to enter into a valid contract.


The prenuptial agreement cannot include any mention of illegal conduct or include illegalities as part of any provision of the contract. If there are illegalities, then there is reason to void the contract.

Also, the courts will not enforce any provision dictating how child custody and/or support will be determined. Courts reserve on this in order to determine what the best interests of the child are before ordering custody or support arrangements.

Is Your Prenup Valid in New Jersey? Talk to Our Family Lawyers in a Free Consultation

Even though it is possible for someone to contest a prenuptial agreement without an attorney, experienced family lawyers will strongly advise against it. Whether you are trying to get out of a prenuptial agreement or trying to enforce it, it would be wise to put your best foot forward by hiring an accomplished matrimonial attorney who has experience in prenuptial litigation. At Bronzino Law Firm, our family law and divorce lawyers have boots on the ground knowledge of the best ways to handle contesting and enforcing prenuptial agreements in New Jersey family courts in Monmouth and Ocean County. From our local offices in Brick and Sea Girt, we assist clients with these often challenging legal situations in Rumson, Sea Bright, Long Branch, Middletown, Tinton Falls, Colts Neck, Point Pleasant, Freehold, and surrounding communities. Contact (732) 812-3102 or reach us by filling out our online contact form to learn more.