What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (“prenup”) is an agreement entered into by a couple prior to marriage which sets forth the parties’ financial obligations and property rights with respect to money and property held prior to the marriage. Some prenups also cover money earned and property accumulated during the marriage as well as spousal support which may be paid following a divorce.
Why Enter into a Prenuptial Agreement?
You may want to consider a prenuptial agreement for a number of reasons. Perhaps you have children from a previous relationship and wish to enter into a prenup in order to ensure that money passes to them (rather than becoming part of the marital estate) at the time of a divorce. Maybe you are concerned about looking out for elderly parents and wish for your money to pass on to them in the event of marriage meltdown. Recognizing that about half of all marriages end in divorce, it is wise to know exactly what a divorce would mean for you, before you ty are facing an expensive, contested divorce.
Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement:
Prenuptial agreements have the benefit of saving considerable time and expense compared to a typical litigated divorce. Rather than embarking on an expensive and often time-consuming process of dividing marital assets in traditional divorce litigation, a prenup often sets out the division of assets for the parties. Similarly, prenups can also cover a number of other issues, including determining how much a party will pay/receive in alimony, which party remains in the marital home, and even which party keeps the pets!
Another benefit is that many people enter into marriage knowing very little about their soon to be spouse’s true financial situation, and their attitudes concerning finances – a leading cause of marital stress.
It is wise for engaged couples considering entering into a prenup to get all of the information early in the engagement. Prenups often take months to draft, negotiate, and complete. Many states require prenups to be signed well in advance of the marriage in order to be enforceable, and there must be full financial disclosure on both sides and the agreement must be reasonable.
If you are considering a prenup in Massachusetts, you should retain your own experienced Massachusetts divorce and prenuptial lawyer to draft and/or review the document to be certain that your interests are protected.
Finally, prenuptial agreements are just not for the wealthy. Couples with more moderate estates and income are taking advantage of prenups more and more frequently.