For many Norfolk County couples, bringing up the topic of a prenuptial agreement with their future spouse seems unromantic. However, marriage isn't just a love story. Entering into the bonds of marriage is also a financial and social contract. Since approximately 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, says the American Psychological Association, it is often in the couple's best interest to devise this agreement before marriage.
The importance of a prenuptial agreement
Every marriage and every divorce is different. Since Massachusetts is not a community property state, the division of assets during a divorce is often up to the marriage's circumstances and the court where the marriage's assets are being divided. One instance where a prenuptial agreement is extremely important is if one of the spouses has large amounts of debt incurred before or during the marriage. For example, if the husband in the marriage were to go to medical school, his student loan debt may or may not be divided equally between both spouses during a divorce, placing the burden of the debt on the spouse that did not get this education.
Although many couples can benefit from a prenuptial agreement, many are hesitant to bring it up with their spouse before marriage. To make this discussion go over as smoothly as possible, the individual bringing up the topic of this agreement to their partner should:
Be sensitive to the reaction of their future spouse and avoid getting defensive.
Not let the topic of the conversation revolve around divorce.
Include the conversation under the umbrella of revising their yearly estate plan.
Incorporate it into a discussion of student loan debt and other debts.
Use a mediator to oversee the conversation.
Once both parties agree to the development of a prenuptial agreement, they should keep in mind that this agreement should be drawn up well in advance before they say "I do." Since most prenuptial agreements take three to four weeks to negotiate and finalize, putting it off until the last minute may add to the stress of the upcoming marriage.
What to expect
In order for the prenuptial agreement to be successful, couples should enlist the help of an attorney. Couples should also be prepared to disclose all of their assets. This may include bank accounts, business ownerships, investments and properties owned by either partner. Failure to disclose all assets may result in the agreement being thrown out by the court during a divorce.
If you and your partner are getting married soon and want to begin working on a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets in the case of a divorce, contact an attorney that can help you begin the process.