Many Massachusetts couples choose to sign a prenuptial agreement. This can be a powerful tool for preserving assets and it can make things much easier in the event of a divorce. Some people say signing a prenuptial agreement is a good way to go into a marriage with open eyes and realistic expectations.
Of course, many couples don't think about signing a prenuptial agreement because they are in love and don't anticipate the possibility that the marriage could later run into trouble, but many marriages do. By then it's too late to sign a prenuptial agreement, but a post-nuptial agreement is a possibility.
In these agreements, a married couple signs a legally binding contract. Like a prenuptial agreement, a post-nuptial agreement can decide in advance how the marital property will be divided should the marriage later end in divorce. Often, couples sign a post-nuptial agreement when the marriage has run into problems, but they have decided to work to repair it.
Massachusetts law recognizes post-nuptial agreements under certain conditions. To make sure the agreement is valid, the court must find that each party had separate legal counsel of their own choosing; that there was no fraud and no one was coerced into signing the agreement; that the party fully disclosed all their assets before the agreement; that each spouse agreed in writing to waive their right to have a judge decide on equitable division of their assets; and that the agreement was fair and reasonable at the time of its signing and is still fair and reasonable at the time of the divorce.
People who are considering a post-nuptial agreement should talk to a family law attorney. As noted above, each spouse should have their own lawyer, and should work to make sure the agreement will stand up to later scrutiny, should it be necessary.