A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help you protect the properties that you acquired prior to your marriage in the event of a divorce. It can also help you set the terms for alimony, child custody, child support, and other such issues that invariably come up in the event of a divorce.
The only difference between a prenuptial and a postnuptial agreement is that the former is signed before the marriage and the latter is signed after the marriage.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts law, a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement can be held valid only if it meets the following conditions:
- Each party must make sure that the agreement is reviewed by their attorney prior to signing it.
- Each party must enter into the agreement willingly, without being coerced by anyone.
- Full disclosure of movable and immovable assets must be made by both parties.
- The terms of the agreement must be ‘fair and reasonable’ at the time of execution. If it is grossly unfair to one of the parties involved, the court might reevaluate the agreement under the ‘second look doctrine’ and declare it invalid.
Bringing up the idea of signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be a difficult task for both parties involved in a relationship. Generally, the idea is proposed by the party who has the most to lose in the event of a divorce. Once the subject is brought up, the other party might react in the following ways:
- They might be hurt by the very idea of signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
- They might agree to sign an agreement, but might not be okay with the terms proposed by the other party.
Either way, the relationship between the parties might be damaged as a result – irreversibly in some cases.
This is why many couples these days are opting for mediation to smooth out the process of signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. In the presence of a mediator, who is a neutral and objective third party, both parties can freely express their concerns, address the issues that matter to them, and come up with a mutually beneficial solution.
How Mediation Can Help You Plan Your Future Together
When a couple decides to prepare a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with the help of their own attorneys, the whole process turns into a pitched battle between legal minds. The richer spouse can afford to hire the best attorney in the city while the less-privileged spouse can only afford to hire a run-of-the-mill attorney. As a result, the less-moneyed spouse might end up with less negotiating power and be forced to sign an agreement whose terms might be unfair to them.
Mediation, on the other hand, removes the negative power dynamics of a rich spouse vs. a poor spouse. It is, by definition, a collaborative process where you and your spouse have an equal say in the discussion. So, neither of you has to worry about being coerced into signing an unfair agreement.
You and your spouse can discuss a wide range of issues in the presence of a mediator – your assets, your debts, your income, your financial aspirations, your concerns about financial security, and many more. The mediator can explain the legal ramifications of the terms and conditions put forward by you and your spouse and make sure you both know what you are accepting to.
Once the two of you reach a consensus, you can prepare a draft agreement, get it reviewed by your attorneys, and sign it. This way, you can start your married life on a happy note, knowing that both of you care about each other’s concerns and respect each other’s opinions.
Speak to a Prenuptial and Postnuptial Mediator in Massachusetts
Whether it’s prenuptial or postnuptial mediation, the team at Shapiro Mediation Services stands poised to help mediate these and any other related matters.