Financial Security During a Marriage
Most couples enter a marriage with the hope that their relationship will last a lifetime. Sadly, it is common knowledge that half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Knowing this fact, you may be worried about your financial future. Divorces can be extremely expensive and put a massive amount of strain on your life. You may be able to bypass many of these issues through a prenuptial agreement; however, even if you did not draft a prenuptial agreement before you got married, you may still be able to draft a postnuptial agreement.
“Postnups,” while not as heavily enforced as prenups, can provide some financial security if you do get divorced. But they must abide by certain rules and legal doctrines for them to be valid. If you need assistance drafting a postnuptial agreement or challenging one, you should reach out to DiBella Law Offices, P.C. With nearly two decades of experience, our Methuen postnuptial agreement attorney can review your finances and assets to develop a strong postnuptial agreement. In addition, he can represent you in a divorce if you feel that your current postnuptial agreement is invalid. To discuss your case in a free initial consultation, contact our law firm at (978) 327-5140.
What Does a Postnuptial Agreement Do?
Like a prenuptial, a postnuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines the individual assets of each spouse in a marriage. If a couple chooses to get divorced, the postnuptial agreement will take effect and state how the couple’s marital assets should be divided. Traditionally, if a couple does not have a pre- or postnuptial agreement, their divorce would be subject to Massachusetts’ divorce laws. However, with a postnuptial agreement, the couple may be able to avoid the complex process of dividing their property.
Through a postnuptial, a couple may outline:
- Who owns specific property in a marriage
- How debts should be divided
- What assets are considered inheritance for children of a previous marriage
- Who should receive spousal support
- How a business should be divided or who retains sole ownership
- How alimony will be handled
While postnuptial agreements are more common for high-asset divorces, there is no minimum amount of property or money needed to draft one.
How Do I Draft a Postnuptial?
Couples can draft a postnuptial agreement on their own, but your best option is to speak to a lawyer first. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we can explain to you the process for drafting and reviewing a postnup agreement, review your finances and marital assets, and work with both of you to create a fair and legally binding document. Postnuptials agreements are rarely ever simple and, without a background in Massachusetts divorce laws, you may be left confused by the requirements.
All postnuptials must be:
- Drafted in writing;
- Signed and notarized;
- Fair and reasonable under the law;
- Fully disclose all assets, property, and debt;
- Free of coercion or fraud.
In addition, it is important to understand the limits of a postnuptial agreement. Postnuptials are primarily used to divide a couple’s assets in the event of a divorce and cannot include lifestyle clauses, rules regarding child custody, or any limits on child support. If you include these topics in your agreement, that may make it unenforceable. Your agreement can also be considered invalid if you violate other Massachusetts state requirements.
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Are Postnuptials Valid in Massachusetts?
In the case of Ansin v. Craven-Ansin, the Massachusetts courts determined that postnups are enforceable under state law. However, these contracts are not absolute and can come under more scrutiny than a prenuptial agreement.
Postnuptials, unlike prenuptials, are typically drafted and signed as a result of marital difficulties. For example, if a couple is going through financial difficulties, such as a bankruptcy or a tax audit, one member may become worried about their future. They may then pressure the other member to sign a postnuptial under the argument that it could save their marriage. If one spouse feels like he or she was coerced into signing a postnuptial, a Massachusetts judge can ignore the agreement and follow standard divorce procedures.
Based on Ansin v. Carven-Ansin, a postnuptial is only valid if:
- Both parties had the option of securing legal representation;
- The agreement was signed willingly and without fraud or coercion;
- Both parties fully disclosed all assets, property, and debt before the agreement was signed;
- Both parties knowingly waived their right to an equitable division of assets under Massachusetts state law;
- The terms of the agreement were considered fair and reasonable when the agreement was signed; and
- The terms of the agreement are considered fair and reasonable at the time of the divorce.
While you may assume that your postnuptial is fully enforceable without going to court, each party does have the option of bringing the case before a judge. If the judge feels that the agreement violates either party’s rights or has unfair clauses, then the postnup can be ignored.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Attorney Today
If you ever get divorced, you may be left wading through a sea of complex laws, financial requirements, and painful arguments. But a postnuptial can allow you to avoid many of those problems and move on with your life without any lasting financial burdens.
If you and your spouse are considering drafting a postnuptial agreement, then you should reach out to the Massachusetts family law lawyer at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. We can work with you to draft a detailed agreement that is fair to both parties. In addition, if you feel that your current postnuptial agreement is too restrictive or unenforceable, we can advocate for fair treatment in a Massachusetts courtroom. To speak with an experienced family law attorney today, call our office at (978) 327-5140.