Can married couples financially separate themselves?


Q. Can my husband and I create a document stating that everything we earn individually belongs to the person who earned it, and that whatever debt that the person has belongs to that person? We didn’t have a prenup and we file taxes separately. We just want to make it official.
— Happy but separate

A. You absolutely can.

Even though you didn’t have a prenuptial agreement, as long as you’re in agreement, you can still take action.

Married couples can enter into a post-nuptial agreement, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

“In order to be legally valid, there must be full disclosure by both parties, no duress or coercion, and the terms must be fair and equitable,” she said.

But, she said, New Jersey courts tend to view such agreements critically because of the relationship of the parties.

So you and your husband should both consult with separate attorneys to make sure the agreement you come to will be enforceable, she said.

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This story was originally published on Jan. 14, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.