What Should My Prenuptial Agreement Cover in Massachusetts?

Prenuptial contract and court gavel

Understandably, no one wants to think about their marriage ending before they even tie the knot. However, prenuptial agreements are crucial to protect your financial interests. If you’re considering creating a prenuptial agreement, please don’t hesitate to contact our trusted Bristol County Divorce Issue Lawyers, who can provide you with quality legal support and ensure it’s prepared in accordance with Massachusetts law. 

What Issues Should My Prenuptial Agreement Address?

A prenutpial agreement is a legally binding contract for couples to sign before they are officially married. This document declares how a couple’s assets will be split if their marriage fails. Because of this, many couples avoid drafting this contract as they don’t want to indicate they believe the marriage will eventually end. However, this contract doesn’t indicate an unstable marriage; instead, it’s an instrument used to protect each party’s financial and personal assets. The provisions outlined in a prenuptial agreement can establish various understandings of common marital issues in the vent of a divorce, including:

  • Property divisions
  • Limitations or guidelines of alimony
  • Debt allocation
  • Inheritances and gifts
  • Any other relevant factors

A prenuptial agreement should include distinctions regarding premarital assets. It would be best if you outlined your separate properties to ensure they’re not subject to distribution. Separate property refers to any assets you accumulate before getting married. In addition, you can determine how marital property will be divided during a divorce to mitigate potential conflict. It’s beneficial to outline how you will handle debt in your marriage, including your debts and those acquired during the marriage.

Alongside property distinctions, you should include provisions regarding the right to alimony. While Massachusetts law allows spouses to eliminate spouse support in prenuptial agreements, a court will amend these provisions if they are unconscionable when enforced. Essentially, if the court deems the terms unfair to one party, meaning they would leave the spouse impoverished and unable to support themselves, they would not enforce the provisions.

What You Can’t Include?

Although prenuptial agreements can serve as an invaluable legal tool to safeguard the interests of both parties in the event of a divorce, specific provisions cannot be included. For instance, you cannot include any language regarding child support, custody, visitation, or other matters related to current or future children. This is because the court follows the “best interest of a child” standard to ensure a child’s welfare. The court will not deprive a child of the opportunity to have a relationship with a fit parent or the right to financial support due to provisions in a prenuptial agreement.

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

While it’s possible to draft a prenuptial agreement on your own, it’s crucial to be aware that it may be unenforceable if the court determines that specific requirements aren’t met. For a prenuptial agreement to be considered valid, it must satisfy the following criteria:

  • It must be in writing
  • It must be written and executed before marriage
  • It must include full financial disclosure of both spouse’s assets
  • It must be notarized
  • It must be fair and just to both spouses (no coercion)

If the prenuptial agreement contains technical errors or disproportionate terms, it will not be enforceable in court. To ensure it holds up in court, it’s in your best interest to contact The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. Our legal team is prepared to help you prepare it in accordance with Massachusetts law.