A prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup, is a contract that individuals enter into prior to getting married. In the contract the parties may acknowledge their financial positions and may make determinations regarding the division of their money and property in the event that they later file for divorce. For some Massachusetts couples prenuptial agreements are a good way to protect children from prior marriages, maintain separate property from their spouses and streamline their divorce proceedings by having the money matters worked out in advance. To this end, a prenup may greatly impact how a person’s property is divided and wealth is distributed at the time of their divorce.
There are certain matters that cannot be worked out in a prenuptial agreement. For example, a couple cannot prearrange child custody matters in a prenup as decisions related to the physical and legal custody of a child must be made with the best interests of the child in mind. When parents cannot sort these important matters out during their divorces courts can step in and impose custody and visitation orders upon them.
Additionally, prenups cannot set conditions on marriages that, if left unfulfilled, may encourage the parties to file for divorce. Prenuptial agreements are truly intended to organize financial issues for a couple so that those issues are settled should their marriage end.
In sum, a prenuptial agreement is intended to affect a divorce, but in a positive way. It is a document that, if properly drafted and executed, can ease the burden of ending a marriage and transitioning into post-martial life. It is not a comprehensive divorce document, though, and individuals who choose to end their marriages often still have many issues to work through before they are legally unattached from their partners.