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Massachusetts Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements are also known as:

  • Pre-marital Agreement
  • Antenuptial Agreement
  • Pre-nup, for short

What are prenuptial agreements?

Prenup
Don’t be like these two, and find yourself alone in the desert, wishing you had a prenuptial agreement. (Photo by Steve McDonough, Mojave Desert near the CA and NV border.)

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract entered into by two people prior to their marriage that spells out the obligations and rights of both parties at the time of divorce.  Although many years ago premarital agreements were generally considered against public policy because it was thought that they would encourage divorce, premarital agreements are now recognized by statute in Massachusetts, and are relatively common.  They are not just for the super-rich or Hollywood stars.

What is the purpose of a prenuptial agreement?

Divorce premarital agreements generally provide for a more cost-effective way to handle the costs and conflict associated with the dissolution of a marriage by setting forth the property rights of each party, limiting the claims parties have against each other's estates, and provide details about continuing support obligations – although with some limitations.  Besides a divorce scenario, premarital agreements can also apply to the parties in the event of the death of a spouse.

Standards for Prenuptial Agreements in Massachusetts

You will want to have a Massachusetts Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer help you get your documents drafted correctly. Besides being in writing, there are several critical standards that a premarital agreement must satisfy in order to be enforceable at the time of divorce.  The agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time of execution, and fair and reasonable at the time of divorce.   It is also imperative that both parties make a full and accurate disclosure of their assets and liabilities prior to signing the prenuptial agreement.

If circumstances occur during the marriage that would leave one spouse without sufficient property, support, or employment, when it is time to enforce the agreement then the agreement will likely fail the “conscionability test.”  An example of this situation would be if a spouse became seriously disabled during the marriage and was unable to support himself or herself due to such disability.

When it comes to upholding prenuptial agreements, it is also important that both parties are represented by their own attorneys.

Do I need a prenuptial agreement?

If you feel that you may benefit from a premarital agreement, you should contact a Massachusetts divorce and family law attorney to discuss your situation in detail.   One tip – don't wait too long, as a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement normally requires more time than most people anticipate.  It is a mistake to have the process feel rushed, and both parties need enough time to assemble and  review the financial details and secure legal representation to negotiate and draft the agreement.

Premarital agreements are most often used under the following circumstances:

  • Second marriages when one or both individuals have their own assets, and/or there is a desire to retain an estate to pass onto children from a previous marriage;
  • When there is a significant difference in assets or income between the parties;
  • If there is a major asset such as a family business or other real estate holdings that one person desires to safeguard;
  • When one person may inherit, or has inherited significant assets and desires shelter those assets should the marriage end in divorce.

Selecting a Massachusetts Family Lawyer for your Premarital Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a detailed legal document requiring careful drafting and counsel by an experienced family law attorney.  Care should be taken not to allow attorneys to fuel any conflict as part of the process since the parties are getting married.   One lawyer may NOT represent two parties with adverse interests.  The best practice is for both people to have their own independent counsel from separate law firms.

At Next Phase Legal, we've drafted and negotiated premarital agreements for clients with complex assets, including privately held businesses and significant trust property.   If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, or your future spouse brought up the issue, then contact a trusted Massachusetts prenuptial attorney today by calling Next Phase Legal LLC at (508) 359-4043, or contact us through the form on this website.

Pre-nup lawyer and Massachusetts prenuptial agreements serving Norfolk County, Middlesex County, Suffolk Conuty, and the greater Boston area.  Next Phase Legal LLC is located in Medfield, MA.

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