If you are getting married, you may want to seriously consider a Prenuptial Agreement. These days more and more couples are creating prenuptial agreements before their marriages, which can provide many benefits to those with significant assets and even for individuals of modest means.
What does a Massachusetts Prenuptial Agreement protect?
A Prenuptial Agreement is an agreement that identifies each spouse’s financial obligations and property rights with respect to property held prior to the marriage. Additionally, a Prenuptial Agreement may address income and property accumulated during the marriage and spousal support, if any, that may be paid in the event of divorce. It is important to keep in mind that child support and child custody cannot be integrated into a prenuptial agreement.
Related read: Interested in learning about what a MA Prenuptial Agreement can protect?
Why get a Prenuptial Agreement?
People enter into a Prenuptial Agreement prior to a marriage for two main reasons: (a) doing so may help clarify financial expectations and obligations for the couple and; (b) a Prenuptial Agreement will likely save the parties the considerable time and expense associated with a divorce by establishing the division of assets and alimony obligation that will be put in place in the event of a divorce. Additionally, a Prenuptial Agreement can preserve the inheritance for the children of a previous relationship; rather than having those assets considered marital assets subject to division upon divorce. Read more about why getting a Prenuptial Agreement in Massachusetts may be important, here.
Are Prenuptial Agreements enforceable in Massachusetts?
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has outlined what is required for a Massachusetts Prenuptial Agreement to be enforceable. First, the Prenuptial Agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time of execution. Second, the Prenuptial Agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time of entry of the Judgment of Divorce Nisi. Also, Massachusetts law requires that the parties to a Prenuptial Agreement make a full and truthful disclosure of their respective assets and liabilities and it is very important that both parties be represented by an attorney at the time the prenuptial agreement is signed.
"Second Look" Requirement
In January 2015, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reaffirmed the 'second look' requirement for enforcement of Prenuptial Agreements. In the Kelcourse case, the appeals court reaffirmed the requirements for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable in Massachusetts:
(a) The Prenuptial Agreement must have been valid when executed; and
(b) The Prenuptial Agreement must be conscionable at the time of divorce.
In the case of Kelcourse, although the Prenuptial Agreement was deemed valid at the time it was executed, circumstances had changed by the time of the divorce, and the court determined that enforcing the agreement would be unconscionable.
The 'second look' analysis of a Prenuptial Agreement at the time of divorce ensures that the Agreement has the same consequence at the time of divorce as the parties intended when they signed it (at the time of execution). In Kelcourse, The Court reiterated that a Prenuptial Agreement will not be enforced if, due to circumstances that occurred during the course of the marriage, enforcement of the prenuptial agreement would leave one spouse without sufficient property, maintenance, or appropriate employment to support herself or himself.
In summary, even if the prenuptial agreement was valid when it was executed, the Court could determine that it is no longer enforceable at the time of divorce because circumstances that occurred during the marriage render the enforcement of the Prenuptial Agreement unconscionable.
Mavrides Law: Experience you can trust.
Mavrides Law has extensive experience in drafting, reviewing, and providing second opinions on Prenuptial Agreements. We understand how uncomfortable it may feel to get a prenuptial agreement while also planning a wedding, and we are here to and assist our clients by explaining the process, the law, and creating a prenuptial agreement they feel comfortable with. Due to our deep understanding and over 30 years of experience in family law, we have assisted our clients in avoiding potential property disputes through the use of prenuptial agreements, as well as disputes regarding the validity of existing agreements.
Mavrides Law can help you protect your assets by creating prenuptial agreements custom-tailored to meet your needs. The firm can draft an agreement for you, review a proposed agreement or provide an opinion regarding the validity of an existing agreement. Mavrides Law can help you develop an agreement that addresses your specific needs and protects your rights and assets.
This information is intended only to be a brief introductory guideline, because each case is different, and presents different issues and areas of concern. Contact Mavrides Law for an initial consultation, at email@example.com, or (617) 723-9900.