Prenuptial agreements are an effective means for protecting certain kinds of assets, personal property and closely held businesses prior to marriage. While a prenuptial agreement is subject to approval by a judge, both parties can protect themselves by specifying how certain kinds of marital property will be divided, what is exempt from consideration as marital property, and what rights are retained by each should they get divorced. In order to avoid delays and unwanted complications, it’s necessary to first understand what the court is likely to approve and what it is likely to reject.
I am family law attorney Annette Baker. At Baker Law I regularly draft and review prenuptial agreements, making sure the terms contained are enforceable and not unduly prejudicial or burdensome. What most people don’t realize however is that when you enter a marriage you typically enter the union with the best intentions. This is why crafting agreements before, or soon after the wedding (called a postnuptial agreement) is a good idea. When you set forth what assets you have and will happen to those should your relationship last less than a lifetime you enter the marriage you can avoid a lot of disagreements, misunderstanding and emotional trauma later. To find out more about how a prenuptial agreement can help you, contact me, attorney Annette L. Baker today at Baker Law and schedule an appointment.
Four Things The Court Considers When Dividing Assets
Massachusetts is an equitable division state when it comes to dividing marital property after a divorce. In general, “equitable division” does not refer to a 50-50 split down the middle; rather, “equitable division” refers to what the court believes is an equitable and fair division of marital property based on four main components:
What is each spouse’s work history and future?
What is each spouse’s education?
What level of health is each spouse experiencing?
What is the income-earning background of each spouse?
Any assets acquired over the course of a marriage are subject to an equitable division, including equity earned on a home you brought into a marriage, your pension plan or your business. A prenuptial agreement can protect these assets by exempting them from marital property. However, the court has an interest in making sure your spouse isn’t left destitute or without means. As a result, your alimony could be increased or you could be required to accept a majority of any existing marital debt. In each instance, any prenuptial agreement excluding certain kinds of assets from marital property must be carefully reviewed and drafted to ensure it doesn’t impose an undue burden on your spouse-to-be.
Prenuptial Agreements And Estate Plans
Second or third marriages can complicate estate plans, especially when there are biological and nonbiological children involved. A prenuptial agreement should, therefore, work in conjunction with any will or trust you’ve established. While your estate plan may make it clear who is to get what, who is to serve as a trustee and who will be your estate’s executor, a prenuptial agreement can reinforce these terms, removing ambiguity or grounds for probate litigation on the part of step-children or an ex-spouse.