Prenup Lawyer Norwood MA
When you’re planning your wedding, chances are that you’re not thinking about the possibility that the marriage will end in divorce. However, the unfortunate reality is that a high percentage of unions do end that way. If you or your future spouse has a high net worth, owns a family business, or has a child from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement can protect everyone’s interests should you eventually divorce.
At Infinity Law Group, we help clients achieve peace of mind through thoughtfully-planned and legally valid prenuptial agreements. If you’re ready to speak to a prenup lawyer in Norwood MA, please call (617) 250-8236.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are legally binding contracts signed by engaged spouses before their marriage. The terms of this premarital contract address common marital issues that may arise during a divorce. Typically, these terms include inheritance issues, alimony, property division, debt allocation, and other important issues unique to the relationship.
There are many reasons why couples prepare financial agreements before marriage. They include but may not be limited to:
- Protecting children from an earlier marriage or relationship
- Specifying the amount and duration of spousal support (alimony)
- Distinguishing which assets are separate and which ones belong to the marital estate.
- Protecting spouses from each other’s debts
- Separating family inheritances or businesses
Benefits of Getting a Prenup
When you decide to marry someone and share the rest of your life with that person, the thought of a prenuptial agreement sounds neither appealing nor romantic. That’s one reason why engaged couples are hesitant to draw one up. Another is that society often equates ‘prenups’ with the possibility of divorce. A third, equally prevalent assumption is that if you and/or your partner are not high net-worth individuals, there’s no point in going to the trouble and expense.
The reality is that a well-drafted prenuptial agreement does not turn a loving marriage into a cold and practical business relationship. It actually has unexpected benefits for each partner, separately and as a couple.
Reach a Financial Accord
Drafting an agreement will give you and your partner the chance to discuss important marital issues such as property and finances. You can decide whether real estate and investments will be jointly owned or in one person’s name only, and how joint and separate bank accounts will be handled.
Money is a regular source of stress and disharmony among couples, so addressing financial issues in a prenuptial agreement helps establish mutually acceptable terms and get rid of unrealistic expectations. In that sense, prenups can reduce the possibility of a couple breaking up.
Good marriages require strong communication ability, but so many couples have difficulty discussing certain matters, including finances. By sitting down together and establishing a prenuptial agreement, you and your partner will become more open with one another by necessity. This can lead to an improved communication pattern that reduces the possibility of future conflicts and tensions.
Are Prenups Hard to Enforce in Massachusetts?
Unlike many other states, prenups in Massachusetts are not governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Instead, the law requires that they must be fair and reasonable when executed, as well as when enforced by the parties.
Therefore, even if a contract was valid when it was entered, the court could review it to make sure it remains fair and equitable when it is enforced. Specifically, it will review whether enforcement would leave one spouse at a financial disadvantage and/or without means to support themselves.
What Can’t You Protect With a Prenuptial Agreement?
If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to understand what it will not protect. In Massachusetts, you generally can’t address the following in a prenup:
- Child Support: In Massachusetts, parents cannot waive future child support as part of a divorce agreement, and a prenuptial agreement provision to lower child support is unlikely to be enforced.
- Strict Child Custody Determinations: Final custody decisions are always based on the best interests of the child.
When is a Prenuptial Agreement Invalid?
Although marital agreements such as prenups are legally permitted, they don’t always hold up in court. When you understand what makes a prenup invalid, you can ensure that your marriage agreement is comprehensive and will protect you and your spouse if you ever separate.
- The Agreement is Oral: A prenuptial agreement must be in writing and notarized. With oral contracts, there is no clear record of the detailed terms or the parties’ actual understanding of them.
- The Agreement Was Signed Under Duress: Prenuptial agreements must be signed by both parties voluntarily. When a party is threatened or forced to sign, the agreement is likely to be thrown out.
- The Agreement is Unconscionable: If an agreement leaves one spouse with fewer resources than the other or is otherwise unfair, a court may find it unconscionable and refuse to uphold it.
- Incomplete or Inaccurate Financial Information: All financial information must be disclosed in a prenuptial agreement in Massachusetts. Undervaluing or misrepresenting assets or omitting information in an agreement will likely render it unenforceable.
Do You Need a Prenup Lawyer in Norwood MA to Draft Your Agreement?
While Massachusetts law does not strictly require either of you to be represented when your prenuptial agreement is put together, it’s strongly recommended. One of the first and easiest ways for a divorce attorney to attack a prenup’s validity is to claim that the couple or individual didn’t have an attorney at the time of the prenuptial agreement signing and so they did not know what they were actually signing.
With a DIY approach, it’s too easy to create a prenup that’s ultimately unenforceable. Should your agreement be invalidated, you and your spouse will have to take the issues before a judge, which can be expensive. Litigating an agreement is a lot more expensive than hiring a prenup lawyer in Norwood MA to do it correctly in the first place.
In addition, an invalidated prenup has the potential to put your separate assets at risk. As an example, let’s imagine you have an ownership stake in a family business that predates your marriage. Your soon-to-be-ex could own a portion of that business if your prenup is declared unenforceable- even if they never contributed to it!
By involving a lawyer, you reduce the chances of your prenup being thrown out. Your attorney can ensure that it complies with current Massachusetts law and carefully records all property addressed in the contents. As a result, you will be less likely to be involved in costly litigation down the road.
When Should You Create Your Prenup?
It is generally advisable to get a prenuptial agreement drawn up and signed anywhere from three to six months before the wedding. Prenuptial agreements are more likely to be invalidated by a court if they were signed days before the ceremony, as it can raise the suspicion that one party was pressured or forced to sign it. An agreement signed well in advance of the wedding may eliminate the argument that the contract resulted from duress or coercion.
Questions? Speak to a Prenup Lawyer in Norwood, MA
While not every couple needs a prenuptial agreement, the issues they should address can vary widely if you decide to put one together. At Infinity Law Group, we can help you start the next chapter of your life with the right legal protections.
If you need to consult with a prenup lawyer in Norwood, MA, Attorney Gabriel Cheong will gladly meet with you, answer your questions, and help you negotiate an agreement that’s fair to both sides as well as legally valid. While we hope that you will have a long and happy marriage, knowing that you’re both protected if things go wrong can give you peace of mind moving forward. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a consultation.