Prenuptial Agreements

Statistics show that one in every two marriages will end in divorce. By entering into a prenuptial (also known as an antenuptial) agreement, persons about to be married may attempt to create a contract to which spells out how their assets will be divided if the marriage ends in divorce. In the absence of such an agreement, the division of assets would be decided by a Probate Court judge, applying equitable factors set forth in the Massachusetts statute. By creating an effective prenuptial agreement, you can establish the terms of any separation at a time when you and your future spouse have a strong and loving relationship, rather than trying to fight out the terms at a time when you are preparing to divorce and can not agree on much. You can address matters such as alimony and property division when you are on good terms.

Prenuptial agreements are not the ideal situation for everyone considering marriage. The most common situation where a couple to be married chooses to draft this agreement is where they have significantly different incomes or assets. In this situation, the wealthier spouse might use the prenuptial agreement to limit any property division or alimony award to the other spouse in the event of divorce, thereby protecting the wealthy spouse’s interest or the interests of his or her children from a prior marriage.

Though subject to various limitations, prenuptial agreements are generally enforceable and a spouse seeking to overturn the agreement bears a very heavy burden. As a result, prenuptial agreements sometimes produce results that appear unfair. Therefore, entering into such an agreement one should carefully consider its terms and should definitely consult an attorney.

Should you sign a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a binding contract and except in the most extraordinary circumstances, that contract is likely to be enforced upon divorce. If you are the less wealthy spouse, you should carefully consider the terms of the proposed prenuptial agreement and you should also make sure that you have a complete understanding of your prospective spouse’s financial situation, and determine what standard of living you would want or need after the marriage if it ends in divorce.

The benefit of a prenuptial agreement is that you are increasing the chances that you can predict what will happen if you divorce. But there is no absolute certainty. At a minimum, you should definitely consult an independent attorney prior to signing a prenuptial agreement.

Contact us today. We are available to review, draft and advise on all aspects of pre-nuptial agreements.