When a marriage is ending, couples who signed a prenuptial agreement are surprised to find out that their prenup may not be enforceable.
A prenuptial agreement is a written contract that makes specific property, business, and other assets the exclusive property of one spouse in a marriage. In theory, a prenuptial agreement helps ensure that a person does not lose high-value assets if their marriage ends, like a business. Prenuptial agreements take effect at the beginning of a marriage and play a key role in dividing property during divorce.
When individuals sign a prenuptial agreement, they presume that the terms of the deal are unchangeable. However, many couples do not realize their prenuptial agreement is subject to scrutiny in a divorce. Multiple cases have given courts legal precedent to give prenups a "second look" during divorce proceedings to make sure it's fair to both parties. Though they carry significant legal strength, the provisions provided by a prenuptial agreement may a judge may change the terms of a prenuptial agreement if they determine it to be unfair.
Understanding a prenuptial agreement’s “second look” requires a brief review of Massachusetts state law and how it evolved over the decades. Initially, Massachusetts only recognized prenuptials that provided instructions for assets after a partner died. However, the law eventually changed to honor prenuptials that addressed the division of assets after a divorce. Understanding this legal history is essential to explain the “second look” for divorce prenuptials in the state.
Part two of this blog series will take a look at the history of prenuptial agreements in Massachusetts. If you have any questions about your prenuptial agreement, give us a call today at (508) 502-7002 for help.