In Massachusetts, you can make a contract on how to deal with your assets when you marry.
The state has already given you a prenuptial agreement: the divorce laws! BUT but it may not be what you want.
· Massachusetts does not divide the assets in half.
· Massachusetts does not automatically permit one spouse to keep the property that she brought to the marriage. Instead, there is a laundry list of factors to consider in determining what is equitable.
If you don't like the possibility of a judge deciding how your assets will be divided if you divorce, then consider a prenup.
The agreement has to meet these requirements:
· The parties have to disclose financial information to each other.
· The agreement has to be fair and reasonable when they enter it.
· There has to be enough time between when they sign the agreement and when they marry to overcome the suggestion of coercion.
· The agreement has to be fair and reasonable when either party seeks to enforce it, and it cannot make one party a public charge.
Instead of the one-size-fits-all arrangement from the statutes, your prenuptial agreement is tailored to your circumstances:
· It can separate specific assets as the exclusive property of one spouse.
· It can have special provisions for division of assets if there are children born or adopted during the marriage.
· It can have estate planning provisions for one or both spouses.
· It can have a sunset provision – if the marriage lasts more than a certain number of years, then the agreement evaporates.
My fiancée wants me to sign a prenup. That means she plans to divorce me, so why are we getting married?
A prenuptial agreement means that your fiancée takes your relationship seriously, and wants to keep money issues from disrupting your marital harmony.
Sometimes a prenup to address concerns outside of the marriage.
We have seen couples negotiate and sign prenups, which they then throw in a drawer and never look at again. So why bother? Even if there is no one outside the couple who is lobbying for a prenup, the process of learning what the divorce laws provide, and how divorce would divide assets can help couples choose a solid understanding of the financial aspects of marriage.
Is a post-nuptial agreement legal in Massachusetts? Yes!
If a couple wants to move off the default of Massachusetts divorce laws after they marry, then a post-nuptial agreement is a good choice.
There are five factors to consider:
· ADVICE: Did each spouse have the opportunity for independent counsel?
· NO PRESSURE: Was there fraud or coercion in getting consent to the agreement?
· NO HIDING: Were all assets fully disclosed prior to signing the agreement?
· KNOWING WAIVER: Did each spouse knowingly waive rights to property sharing and support?
· FAIRNESS: Is the agreement fair and reasonable?
Whether before or after getting married, couples in Massachusetts are free to contract with each other on how a divorce will affect the division of their assets.
Just remember: if you want the benefits of being married, you must be legally married. Time alone will not help. There is no common-law marriage in Massachusetts!
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