June 6, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 157


June 06, 2023

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June 04, 2023

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Though Unattractive, You Still Need a Pre-Nup or Cohabitation Agreement

A shortage of economically attractive men is yet another reason you may need a pre-nup before tying the knot. A recent Cornell University study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family says that one of the reasons the U.S. has seen a decline in marriage is because there is a shortage of men who are “economically attractive.” The study attributes the shortage to various factors, including the economy, which currently has more lower-paying and unstable jobs. Additionally, women are climbing the economic ladder and now have different expectations for a spouse.

So, what do you do if you fall in love with someone who you view as economically unattractive? Particularly, if you are in a better economic circumstance and earn a significantly higher income, a prenuptial agreement may be a way to marry your true love and still feel secure in the event the marriage doesn’t work (divorce rates are slowly going down, but then again, fewer people are getting married).

Alternatively, if you just want to live with your love to try it out, a cohabitation agreement can protect you against problems down the line.

Both pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements should have several components and address several outcomes. Pre-nuptial agreements in New Jersey are governed by the Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act, which requires certain matters to be covered in the agreement in order for it to be enforceable.

For both prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements, these are the types of things that are helpful to decide before the marriage or cohabitation:

  • The rights and obligations of the parties when it comes to property or debts (who pays for what);

  • Whether assets, including those earned during the relationship, will be co-mingled and considered joint;

  • If one person pays pre-existing debts of the other during the relationship, whether there be a credit at the end;

  • What the parties expectations are for future debt to be incurred during the relationship;

  • Whether a bread winner, or person earning a higher income, can be responsible to support the other, and if so, which income can be considered when determining the appropriate level of support;

  • What happens if one party receives an inheritance during the relationship and uses it fund the lifestyle of the relationship;

  • How the assets and debts are distributed after the relationship or marriage is over;

  • How real property will be titled during the relationship

  • Who can live in or have possession of property after the relationship is over (this one is particularly relevant when there are children);

  • Who takes possession of, and who pays expenses associated with Furry Friends; and

  • If you are mobile, which state law will govern any future break-up

This is only a sampling of what issues can be resolved before a relationship or marriage is entered into. 

COPYRIGHT © 2023, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 267

About this Author


Jennifer Weisberg Millner is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Family Law & Divorce practice. Ms. Millner concentrates her practice in divorce, custody, adoption, and appeals. She is also certified in collaborative law, a method of dispute resolution in which the parties and their attorneys mutually agree to reach a settlement outside the courtroom without resorting to litigation.

Ms. Millner is deeply familiar with the complex legal, and emotional, challenges that arise when families must turn to...