No one enters into a marriage anticipating divorce. However, statistics do show that many marriages do unfortunately end that way. A prenuptial agreement is a kind of pact that couples entering into marriage agree to that aims to settle the issues that would be at the forefront of a divorce settlement. Of course, the courts will have a lot to say as to whether the prenuptial agreement the two of you entered into is legitimate and whether it will be honored.  

If you are getting married and wish to consider the benefits of a prenuptial agreement—or you are being asked to agree to one—in or around Salem, Massachusetts, contact us Lamb & Lamb, P.C. As family law attorneys, we can guide you through the prenuptial process and advise you of your rights and responsibilities in creating this important document. 

We proudly serve clients in communities neighboring Salem, including Danvers, Beverly, Lynnfield, and Peabody. Set up a consultation today. 

Prenuptial Agreements in Massachusetts

A prenuptial agreement naturally concerns property, money, and investments, but there are other considerations that go into the pact that are of vital importance as well. As for marital property, as it is called in a divorce proceeding, Massachusetts adheres to the standard of equitable distribution, as opposed to states that follow community property standards, which is basically a 50/50 split.  

The court will consider various factors in dividing assets acquired during the time of marriage in a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can address these issues in advance. Essentially, there is separate property and marital property. Generally speaking, separate property refers to anything acquired before marriage. Marital property, on the other hand, refers to anything acquired during marriage unless from an inheritance or a gift, which becomes separate property. A prenuptial agreement can address both of these. 

In addition, a prenuptial can address: 

  • Whether either spouse will receive alimony 

  • How debts will be handled 

  • How the children from previous relationships will be treated in terms of financial support or property acquisition 

  • Whether either spouse will have to provide health or life insurance 

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Why Marital Agreements Are Important

Peace of mind might be the first consideration in agreeing to a prenuptial pact. By crafting a well-rounded prenuptial agreement, you know what will happen if things don’t work out. There are clear boundaries set in place so that both spouses know what the present and the future might hold.  

Deciding on a prenuptial agreement also provides an opportunity for an open discussion about what each partner holds dear and values. The whole experience can prevent surprises down the road that could be devastating to the relationship. Each party knows what to expect. 

No matter what kind of marital agreement you end up deciding on, it’s vital to contact a family law attorney to help with the details. 

What the Courts Consider

If a couple enters into divorce with a prenuptial in place in Massachusetts, the judge overseeing the divorce will weigh several factors to determine if the pact is valid. First, there must have been an honest exchange of financial information when the agreement was reached. This includes the sharing of all assets, debts, income, and business interests. Withholding any information could give the judge a reason to invalidate the agreement. 

Second, each party to the agreement should have been advised and guided by an attorney on whether the prenuptial was in their best interest and that it was properly spelled out in terms of each party’s rights and responsibilities. If one party declines to use an attorney, the pact should state that the opportunity for legal counsel was provided but declined. 

Third is the timing of the agreement. It should be discussed and agreed to well in advance of the wedding. If one party springs a document on the other a week before the wedding and demands it is signed, that is something that likely would raise some eyebrows in court. 

Fourth, and as a corollary to the third, neither party should feel threatened or coerced into signing the agreement. Each must sign it of their own free will at whatever time it is presented. There are also general considerations regarding the savviness of each party to the agreement. Did one party simply take advantage of the other’s innocence or lack of smarts in financial matters? 

Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys in Salem, Massachusetts

A prenuptial agreement can be an effective vehicle for avoiding prolonged battles when a marriage falls apart—but it must be done in a precise way and with each party’s willing participation. Otherwise, it could end up being challenged or thrown out by a court in divorce proceedings. If you wish to create a prenup or have one reviewed anywhere in Massachusetts, contact us at Lamb & Lamb, P.C today.