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Prenuptial Agreements

Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising --- Spring is in the air.  Wedding season is upon us - save the date postcards were mailed in January and June wedding dates are just around the corner.  Just when you think all the wedding planning is almost complete, one of the parties raises the issue of prenuptial agreements.

People enter into prenuptial agreements for many personal and financial reasons.  They often can be complicated legal documents that require both parties to seek independent legal advice prior to entering into such an agreement.  The parties are required to make full financial disclosures to each other as a condition to entering into a valid prenuptial agreement.  The Agreements often take time to prepare, negotiate and emotionally accept.  Leaving the issue of a prenuptial agreement to the eve of a wedding date is a poor decision but unfortunately frequently occurs. 

We all know that marriages end one of two ways - death or divorce.  Prenuptial agreements can memorialize what will happen with respect to the parties' pre-marital and post-marital property and income in the event of a death of one of the parties or divorce.  Prenuptial agreements are not intended, nor can they be used in Massachusetts to validly contract on matters regarding child custody or child support.  

Typically, parties enter into pre-nuptial agreements for one of the following reasons:  1) they seek to protect pre-marital assets; 2) they seek to protect future gifts or inheritances that one of the parties may receive; 3) they seek to limit and/or memorialize issues regarding alimony obligations in the event the marriage ends by divorce; 4) they seek to limit and/or memorialize a spouse's right to property at death of a spouse and, in some cases where there are children from a prior relationship, to preserve a legacy for their lineal descendents; or 5) they seek to protect a unique asset owned prior to the marriage such as a closely held family business.

If you think you are interested in wanting a prenuptial agreement before you marry, it is important that you get sound, skilled legal advice from a attorney months in advance of the wedding.  The negotiation and discussions surrounding prenuptial agreements often can be stressful and put strain on a relationship before the parties marry.  Open communication regarding one's need or desire for a prenuptial agreement is imperative.

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