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The influence of postnuptial agreements on infidelity

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Family Law |

A postnuptial agreement presents one option to couples in New Jersey for addressing infidelity. After a spouse has an affair, the couple may try to rebuild their marriage on the basis of a new contract. Unlike a prenuptial agreement signed prior to marriage, the postnuptial agreement allows two people to renegotiate the relationship and the consequences of undesired behavior. Views among divorce lawyers and relationship professionals are split on whether these contracts prevent future infidelity or simply set the stage for negotiating a divorce.

Lifestyle clause for infidelity

Sections of a marriage contract that address behaviors outside the normal purview of family law are often called lifestyle clauses. For example, a lifestyle clause may state that any future infidelity would result in the spouse paying a specific financial penalty for the infidelity when settling a divorce. The penalty may take the form of a cash payment or a transfer of assets.

Wealth reduces the efficacy of a lifestyle clause

Many wealthy individuals have used lifestyle clauses to impose penalties for infidelity. Despite the willingness of most judges to enforce well-executed postnuptial agreements, the contracts produce limited results. A signatory may still decide to engage in more extramarital affairs and pay the price.

However, two people who genuinely want to recommit to each other may use a postnuptial agreement to demonstrate their desire to make amends and move forward in the marriage. Negotiating the terms and signing the document help a couple understand each other better. The process transitions the spouses from a place of betrayal to a new era in their relationship. The spouse who cheated may frame the act of signing the agreement as a formal apology and a chance to start over.

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