Getting married may be a romantic act, but it also a legal one; when you get married, you enter into a type of contract with your spouse in which you ask for legal recognition of your union. Because marriage is such a serious engagement–and the process of ending a marriage also a legal undertaking–it makes sense that your marriage should be accompanied by other legal documents that offer you protection and peace of mind. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, we can help you and your spouse create a postnuptial agreement that offers both of you comfort and security.
What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Unlike a prenuptial agreement, which is formed by parties prior to marriage, a postnuptial agreement is a legal agreement that a couple forms after exchanging vows. A postnuptial agreement is used to address a couple’s financial affairs, especially as they pertain to what will happen to property or assets in the event of separation, divorce, or death of one or both of the parties.
What a Postnuptial Agreement Can and Cannot Contain
Postnuptial agreements are entered into for the same reasons that prenuptial agreements are created, and therefore often contain many of the same elements. Most postnuptial agreements only address financial issues, and may be used to address:
- The division of property in the event of a separation of divorce;
- Ownership of a business;
- Spousal maintenance in the event of divorce;
- Benefits and property for children from a prior marriage;
- Financial rights and obligations of each party during the marriage (i.e. who has the right to buy or sell property);
- Separate finances; and
- Debt protection.
However, while there are many things that a postnuptial agreement can do, there are also things that a postnuptial agreement cannot be used for. For example, a postnuptial agreement cannot be used to make a determination about child custody or waive the right to child support, nor make unreasonable and unfair decisions (i.e. one spouse must do all of the cooking and cleaning and completely waive their right to spousal support if parties divorce).
Forming a Valid Postnuptial Agreement
The Massachusetts Supreme Court has determined that there are five factors that must be met in order for a pre- or postnuptial agreement to be valid in the state. These five factors are:
- Each party has had an opportunity to obtain separate legal counsel (only the opportunity to obtain counsel matters; the parties do not have to actually have separate legal counsel).
- There was no fraud or coercion in obtaining the agreement.
- Both parties fully disclosed all assets and liabilities before the agreement was created and finalized.
- Each party understood that they were waiving their rights to equitable distribution of assets in the event of divorce.
- The terms of the postnuptial agreement are fair and reasonable both at the time the agreement is executed and at the time of the divorce.
Contact the Law Offices of Heather M. Ward Today
Creating a postnuptial agreement has a number of benefits. If you have questions about creating a postnuptial agreement, or you and your spouse are ready to enter into an agreement today, call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward today for a confidential consultation. You can reach us at (617) 903-8955 now.