Protecting Your Assets Before Marriage
We all hope that a marriage will last, but it is well known that 50% of American marriages end in divorce. Despite this knowledge, many couples fail to plan for the worst-case scenario and are forced to go through costly and emotionally draining court proceedings. If you go into a marriage blind, you will be subject to Massachusetts divorce laws and will have to rigorously review all of your assets to determine what is marital property and what is your personal property. However, with a prenuptial agreement, a couple can avoid this stressful process and can enter into their marriage with the faith that they will be financially secure afterward.
If you are currently engaged and worried about protecting your assets after marriage, then you should reach out to a Boston prenuptial agreement attorney. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our founding attorney can work with you and your soon-to-be-spouse to draft a detailed and thorough prenuptial agreement that protects each of your assets, including any complex finances like a business. To discuss your case in-depth with a free consultation, contact our office at (978) 327-5140.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines two people’s individual assets and property before they marry. If they do get divorced, or one spouse dies, this document can be enforced under Massachusetts’s state laws and each person’s individual assets will be distributed according to the agreement.
This agreement can be incredibly useful if you:
- Have complex finances
- Own multiple properties
- Own a small business
- Want to leave an inheritance to a child from a previous relationship
- Have debt you want to keep separate from your spouse
Even if you do not have a large number of assets or property, a prenuptial can provide financial security for any assets or debts you may have collected before your marriage. By drafting a prenuptial, you and your spouse ensure that you can both walk away from your marriage with some financial security.
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What Can I Include in a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement is primarily focused on the finances in the divorce and can allow you to determine which property you and your spouse individually own. A prenuptial does not allow you to determine custody or child support payments, or any household tasks or duties during your marriage. A prenuptial is solely for the purpose of dividing your assets in the event of a divorce and should not be used to determine the nature of your marriage or relationship.
With a prenuptial, you can include:
- What properties and assets are considered marital
- What property and assets are considered personal to you, and to your spouse
- Who may receive spousal support in the event of a divorce
- How alimony will be decided
- Who is liable for certain debts, such as credit cards, student loans, or mortgages
- If any assets will be set aside for a child from a previous relationship as inheritance
To draft a prenuptial, you should speak to a lawyer before you are married and review all of your finances and assets. If you are already married, then a prenuptial agreement would not be valid; however, you can draft a postnuptial agreement.
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Do Massachusetts Courts Honor Prenuptials?
It is important to know that not all prenuptials are valid and, even if you drafted one carefully and had your partner sign it, it can be disputed in court. You should always have a prenuptial reviewed by a family law attorney who can help you determine if it will hold up in court.
While Massachusetts courts do recognize prenuptial agreements as valid and binding contracts, they can dismiss them if a judge feels that the prenup is unfair or unreasonable. Elements that make a prenuptial invalid include:
- The prenuptial was not in writing
- The prenuptial was signed under duress or coercion
- One member did not include all financial assets
- The prenuptial includes a “lifestyle clause”
- The prenuptial includes distribution of child support or custody
- The prenuptial was not considered fair or reasonable at the time of marriage
- The prenuptial was not considered fair or reasonable at the time of the divorce
In order for a prenuptial to be considered fair and reasonable, the document should be thoroughly reviewed by an attorney who can ensure both parties are properly represented. In addition, the prenuptial should not leave one member financially insecure after a divorce. If the court finds that the prenuptial could negatively impact one spouse’s life after a divorce, it can reject the document and require the divorce to follow the standard procedures under Massachusetts state laws.
Why You Should Review a Prenuptial With an Attorney
No one ever wants to think about a potential divorce when they are preparing to get married, but a prenuptial is like insurance: you always want to have it just in case the worst occurs. With a prenuptial, you and your spouse can marry knowing that both of you will be protected if things don’t work out.
However, there are also scenarios where a prenuptial agreement is unfair and damaging to one member. In cases like these, a skilled lawyer can review the agreement and even have it thrown out in court to protect their client.
In either situation, you should speak to a Massachusetts family law attorney to discuss all of your legal options. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our firm can help you draft a thorough prenuptial agreement that protects both you and your spouse, or we can represent you in a contentious divorce if you feel a prenuptial was unfair or unreasonable. To discuss your case in further detail with an experienced lawyer, call our office at (978) 327-5140.