Review of prenuptial agreements in Massachusetts

As this blog has mentioned previously, couples in Massachusetts are legally authorized to enter into what are commonly referred to as prenuptial agreements, or even just “prenups.” While these agreements can be very helpful in the event of a divorce, they are also useful for even happily married couples who, for instance, have children from a prior relationship.

Massachusetts laws about prenuptial agreements, which are legally called antenuptial settlements, specify that they can apply only to a couple’s property. What this means is that while a couple can specify who gets what in the event of a divorce or even, for that matter, after the death of a spouse, prenuptial agreements cannot lawfully cover matters like child custody or support. In other words, if a couple attempt to bargain child support or custody in their agreement, the court will be under no obligation to enforce that portion of the agreement and will instead follow Massachusetts law.

There are other requirements pertaining to prenups that Massachusetts couples need to be aware of. For instance, unlike other states, Massachusetts courts will ask whether a prenuptial agreement was “fair” at the time the agreement was made. Moreover, the agreement also needs to be at least within the realm of fairness at the time the agreement is going to be enforced. Otherwise, the court might elect not to enforce the agreement.

A prenuptial agreement may be right for many couples no matter how much wealth they have. However, the specifics as to whether a person should have a prenup, as well as what that agreement should contain in terms of details, is best discussed with an experienced Massachusetts family law attorney.

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