Protecting Your Future Through A Prenuptial Agreement
If you are about to get married, the last things you want to think about is divorce. Under Massachusetts divorce laws, however, nearly everything either spouse owns is considered part of the marital property and subject to division. This even includes assets each person owned prior to the marriage. To protect your property and simplify the property division process in the unfortunate case your new marriage ends in divorce, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. These agreements are written contracts that state how your property will be divided if your marriage ends in divorce or death.
The lawyers at Baskin Kershner & Thorp, LLC, have over 50 years of combined legal experience helping clients with a wide range of matrimonial law cases. We have helped clients divide complex property ownership and manage high net-value assets during their divorce cases. We understand the challenges that divorce can pose for families.
Why Choose A Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements, also called antenuptial settlements in the state statutes, provide many benefits for a couple about to embark on marriage. Common reasons include:
- To protect a family inheritance one spouse expects to receive
- To establish or exclude alimony payments for one spouse
- To protect the inheritance one spouse hopes to pass on to children from a prior marriage
- To keep property each party brought into the marriage
- To keep certain business interests or professional practices separate from the marital property
In addition, you may find that having the agreement in place strengthens your relationship because you have already had the difficult discussions about finances that trip up many couples. You will know where you stand and can feel confident about your future, no matter what happens.
Will The Court Enforce The Agreement?
In order to be enforceable, the agreement must be in writing and signed. The court must find it fair and reasonable to both parties at the time it is signed and also at the time of the divorce. One party cannot coerce the other into signing and both must have plenty of time to review the contract, preferably with the advice of their own attorney. Note that the law does not allow a couple to establish or waive child support payments in a prenuptial agreement and frowns on “lifestyle” clauses, such as those precluding infidelity or weight gain.
How Is A Postnuptial Agreement Different?
In Massachusetts, you can also sign a postnuptial agreement. These function the same way as a prenuptial agreement. The major difference is timing as they are signed after you are already married. Another difference is how the court views these documents. Courts tend to give postnuptial agreements much more scrutiny than prenuptial agreements. This is because they are often initiated when one spouse is feeling vulnerable or afraid the marriage may end if they do not sign.
In general, when enforcing either document, the courts consider whether the agreement is fair and reasonable. We will provide you guidance regarding the terms of your agreement to increase the likelihood of enforcement in the case of a divorce.
Find Out How We Can Help
To learn more about prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and whether one might be right for you, schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. You can call our Boston office at 617-266-1820 or fill out our online contact form today.