Overview of New Jersey Marital Settlement Agreement
In basic terms, a marital settlement agreement in a New Jersey marital dissolution case sets forth the manner in which divorcing spouses have resolved issues between themselves. A marital settlement agreement sets for the terms of the divorce. It establishes the framework for the post-divorce life of the parties after a marriage dissolution case draws to a close and the marriage legally is ended.Property Division and Debt Distribution
A key element of a New Jersey marital settlement agreement is delineating the agreement between the parties regarding financial issues. There are instances in which a marital settlement agreement is referred to as a property settlement agreement.
A marital settlement agreement establishes how assets and debts acquired or accumulated during the course of a marriage will be divided between the parties. Even when a divorcing couple negotiates property division, they still must be aware of the standard used in the state of New Jersey regarding assets and debts in a divorce.
In New Jersey, assets and debts are to be divided between the parties in a fair and equitable manner. This is known as the equitable division of property standard. Ultimately, a court will examine the agreement reached by the parties to ensure that it is just and equitable – or that some tangible and significant reason exists warranting a deviation from this legal standard.Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support.
A marital settlement agreement in New Jersey can also encompass decisions made by divorcing parents in regard to:
- Child custody
- Parenting time
- Child support
Parents do have considerable leeway in the manner in which they negotiate issues associated with children born during the marriage. With that said, what the parties agree to in a marital settlement agreement in regard to children needs to be in the best interests of those children.
As is the case with property division, a judge will examine a marital settlement agreement to ensure that issues associated with the children are resolved in a manner that is in their best interests. In addition, New Jersey has established child support guidelines. An agreement regarding child support needs to comply with the guidelines. If there is a departure from the guidelines, the parents have the burden of explaining why the deviation should occur and why it is in the best interests of the children.Alimony
A marital settlement agreement may include a provision establishing alimony to be paid to one of the spouses by the other. Typically, a marital settlement agreement will set forth a specific amount of alimony to be paid and establish a period of time during which these payments will be made.Disclosure of Material Information
In advance of entering into a marital settlement, the parties are legally obligated to make full and complete disclosures of material information relevant to elements of that agreement. As a prime example, they must make full and complete financial disclosures to each other before entering into a marital settlement agreement. The failure to disclose material information can result in the marital settlement agreement being set aside and declared to be invalid by the court.Free and Voluntary Agreement
The spouses to a New Jersey divorce can only enter into a marital settlement agreement as a free and voluntary act. A party to a divorce cannot be pressured, threatened, coerced, deception, or manipulated in some manner to enter into a marital settlement agreement. If pressure, threats, coercion, deception, or manipulation occurs, the marital settlement agreement can be declared by the court as being unenforceable and invalid. If you are going through a divorce, call us for a free consultation at (201) 845-7400.