Marriage

Matrimonial Law Attorney Representing Bergen County Residents

You must have a marriage license to marry in New Jersey. There is no such thing as a common law marriage in the state. In order to obtain a license without parental consent, you need to be at least 16, and you must wait 72 hours. There is no blood test, nor are there residency requirements. At Leopold Law, Bergen County marriage lawyer Howard Leopold may be able to advise you on any legal concerns that you may have when getting married, including the preparation of a prenuptial agreement, and we can also provide advice and legal representation if you seek an annulment or divorce.

Marriage Law in New Jersey

Generally, a marriage is a happy occasion, but sometimes one or both spouses think ahead to the possibility of the marriage not working out. New Jersey prenuptial agreements are contracts that prospective spouses make to determine ahead of time how property will be distributed should the marriage fail to last. For many spouses, it is useful to prepare a prenuptial agreement so that if the marriage comes to an end, both spouses understand the consequences for their property.

The prenuptial agreement may spell out rights and obligations regarding assets and property, characterize assets or property as being part of the separate or marital estate, or limit or eliminate alimony. This may require one or both spouses to make a will or trust to carry out certain agreements in case a spouse becomes disabled or dies. It can also determine ownership rights as to a life insurance death benefit, provide the choice of law governing the agreement, and address other personal rights and obligations as long as they do not violate public policy. The prenuptial agreement cannot determine child support or custody arrangements, since these are governed by the best interests standard at the time of separation, divorce, and afterward. A marriage attorney can advise Bergen County residents on its appropriate scope. Generally, however, the divorce process is less complicated when there is a valid and comprehensive prenuptial agreement in place.

To be valid, a prenuptial agreement needs to be in writing, signed by each of the spouses, and include a statement of assets so that both spouses receive a fair and reasonable disclosure of the other spouse's financial condition.

To obtain a marriage license, you will need to show proof of identity by presenting a driver's license, passport, or other state or federal identification, proof of residency, and social security number. You will need to have a witness who is 18 years of age or older. There is a three-day waiting period in New Jersey, and this period starts once an application is filed with the Local Registrar. A marriage license application stays valid for only six months unless the Registrar pre-approves an extension of the validity of the application to one year. Once a marriage license is issued, it is valid for 30 days. To marry in New Jersey, neither of the prospective spouses can be a party to another domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage that is recognized by the state of New Jersey. If you are under the age of 18, you will need parental consent forms signed by both parents. If you are under age 16, both parental papers and a form signed by a judge are necessary.

Once you are married, the property that you acquire during the marriage is presumptively marital property. A Bergen County marriage attorney can advise spouses on what this involves. Gifts and inheritances are separate property, as is any property that you had before the marriage. Separate property remains separate if you get a divorce, unless you have a valid prenuptial agreement that says something different. However, the marital estate is usually equitably divided. That means that the court will divide assets and property in a way that it believes is fair based on numerous factors, including the length of the marriage and the couple’s lifestyle during the marriage.

In some circumstances, it may be possible to obtain an annulment of a marriage from the court. While a divorce ends a marriage, an annulment states that it never existed. There are multiple grounds available for both annulment and divorce. You must have substantial cause to obtain an annulment, but unlike with a divorce, there is no residency requirement.

Seek Advice from a Marriage Lawyer in Bergen County

Our dedicated team at Leopold Law may be able to help you plan for a marriage by preparing prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. We may also be able to help you obtain an annulment or divorce if a marriage breaks down. We handle family law matters in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, and Essex Counties. Call Leopold Law at (201) 345-5907 or contact us via our online form to set up a free consultation.

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