Wedding planning can be stressful for a couple. The decision to enter into a prenuptial agreement is a very personal decision. Most couples believe their marriage will last forever and don’t think there is a need to enter into a prenuptial agreement. The reality is that every married couple can benefit from having a prenuptial agreement in place. We understand that planning a marriage is a time full of happiness and fun. An important part of that planning should include a discussion of the financial components to marriage. Such a financial discussion before the marriage often reduces conflict in the event of a divorce.
Without a prenuptial agreement in place, the Court could decide how assets are divided during a divorce. The outcome isn’t always as expected. When one partner brings assets to the marriage that s/he wants to keep in the event of a divorce, s/he should have a prenuptial agreement in place. Similarly, without a prenuptial agreement in place, the Court may decide that your former spouse has an interest in property that is in your name individually whether acquired before or during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement can spell out that you retain all interest in your individual property.
If one partner has significant debt coming into the marriage, i.e. student loans a prenuptial agreement protects the other from having to take on any of that debt if the marriage ends. Without a prenuptial agreement, the Court may determine that you are responsible for a portion of your former spouse’s student loans.
For couples that have children, a prenuptial agreement can outline how the children will be financially cared for if the marriage ends. The financial responsibilities should be shared fairly between partners. If one partner left the workforce to raise the children, this should be taken into account. If the parties purchase real estate during their marriage, a prenuptial agreement can outline who will remain in the marital home with the children.
If either partner is a business owner, a prenuptial agreement protects that business after divorce. A business can often be considered an asset and without an agreement in place, a former spouse can be given an interest in the business.
Going through a divorce isn’t pleasant. Emotions often run high and the process can be very stressful to everyone involved. With a prenuptial agreement in place, the process becomes less stressful because certain issues have been agreed to. The litigation process will be less costly, and your family can move on with their lives much more quickly.
No one goes into marriage expecting it to end in divorce. However, things and people change, and divorces happen. The Massachusetts divorce rate has risen to nearly 50%.
A prenuptial agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time the couple sign the agreement and fair and reasonable at the time of their divorce. For couples this means that the agreement was entered into freely and voluntarily, they believe it to be fair and reasonable at the time of signing the agreement, there was full financial disclosure by each there was an adequate amount of time between the date the couple signed the agreement and the wedding date, each had an opportunity to consult with an attorney of their choice, and neither party is walking away from the marriage essentially stripped of all rights and without sufficient means to support themselves. Protect yourself now, get a prenuptial agreement in place.