Massachusetts Prenup Attorney

Boston Attorneys, Couple in Boston walking in seaport
 

Whether you’re aiming to protect your lobster pots, historic brownstones, or perhaps that secret clam chowder recipe passed down through generations, considering a prenup in the picturesque state of Massachusetts is always a wicked good idea! But..where do you even start? Understanding prenups and MA prenup lawyers doesn’t have to be as tricky as parallel parking in Boston. HelloPrenup has you covered! Questions like: Do you need a lawyer? How do you go about finding one? What’s the tea on Massachusetts prenups? We’ve got the answers. Put on your finest colonial tricorn hat, and let’s unravel all things prenups in the Bay State!

Do you need a prenup lawyer in MA?

No, a lawyer is not required for parties to execute a valid and enforceable prenup agreement in Massachusetts. However, if your prenup is ever challenged one day, a judge is more likely to consider a prenuptial agreement enforceable if both parties had independent legal counsel representation. 

In fact, the Supreme Court of MA explained, “When determining whether a contesting party waived marital rights in signing an antenuptial agreement, it is important for a trial judge to consider such factors as whether each party was represented by independent counsel, the adequacy of the time to review the agreement, the parties’ understanding of the terms of the agreement and their effect, and a party’s understanding of his or her rights in the absence of an agreement.” DeMatteo v. DeMatteo, 762 N.E.2d 797 (2002)

What are the prenup requirements in MA?

So what needs to be in a prenup agreement for it to be considered valid and enforceable in Massachusetts? Here are some of the main requirements:

 

  • The agreement must be in writing and signed by the parties
  • The parties must have signed the agreement voluntarily and under no signs of duress
  • The parties must have fully disclosed their finances
  • The parties must have adequate opportunity to consult with independent counsel
  • The parties must understand the rights they are waiving under the agreement
  • See Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 209 §§ 25 and 26 for some of the fine print
Despite the above requirements, people that sign a prenup in MA have a wide range of flexibility when drafting an agreement. Here is a list of some widely accepted topics that may be included in a MA:

  • Determination of spousal support to be paid between parties
  • Division of assets
  • Separation of assets brought into the marriage by either party
  • Valuation of property
  • Distribution of property between spouses in the occurrence of a spousal death
  • Payment of taxes
  • And more, as long as it doesn’t violate public policy or include criminal acts

What are the benefits of hiring a prenup lawyer for your prenup?

Many couples find that hiring a lawyer for their prenup agreement is in their best interests due to the legal expertise and state-specific knowledge necessary to execute a sound agreement that is likely to be upheld in court. Although a prenup might seem like a simple undertaking, it can be easy for people who are not lawyers to overlook the requirements that Massachusetts law mandates for prenups.

Prenup lawyers are typically highly skilled at customizing agreements to fit a couple’s specific circumstances. Maybe there is a large wealth gap between the parties, or the parties have assets from previous marriages that they need to protect for children. Perhaps a party wants to protect her interest in her business or practice in the event of divorce. Every couple has a different set of needs that a prenup lawyer is uniquely qualified to protect and accommodate.

Where to find a MA attorney?

You’ve decided you would like to hire a prenup attorney in Massachusetts, but how do you find one? This section will give you some tips on where to look to pick out the best lawyer for you.

Friends and Family

You may find that consulting trusted friends and family about their tried and true experiences may be the best starting place for finding an attorney that fits your needs. Keep in mind that not all attorneys specialize in the same area, so it may mention that you are looking for an attorney with knowledge of prenups in the state.

Massachusetts Bar Association

Checking out the local Bar Association, such as Mass Bar Association or Boston Bar Association are other great ways to find a prenup attorney. You may find that the Bar Associations make referrals specific to different areas of law. This will help narrow down your results as you seek out advice for your prenup.

Google

If you’re going in cold, with no previous referral from a friend or the MA bar association, you have your work cut out for you. When you search terms like, “MA prenup attorney” or “Boston prenup lawyer” you’ll see a bunch of names and law firms pop up. You will want to first make sure that the lawyers you see practice prenups by checking their website. Then, you’ll want to check out their online reviews from prior clients. These reviews can give you lots of insight on how the attorney practices.

Important Massachusetts Prenup Case Law

Here are some examples of real-life cases about prenup agreements in Massachusetts. 

DeMatteo: How does a MA court evaluate prenups and determine if they are enforceable or not?

The first case we will look at is DeMatteo v. DeMatteo. The DeMatteo case illustrates the “second look” test. A Massachusetts court will take a “second look” at a prenuptial agreement to decide if the agreement is still reasonable and fair to the parties at the time of divorce. The court will weigh factors laid out in the second look test to determine if enforcement of the prenup would leave one of the parties “without sufficient property, maintenance, or appropriate employment” to support themselves. If a Massachusetts court finds that enforcing a prenup would prevent a party from supporting themself independently, then the court will invalidate the agreement.

So, what happened in this case, specifically? In DeMatteo, the couple divorced after eight years of marriage, and they had completed a prenup agreement before their marriage at the husband’s request. There was a significant wealth gap between the parties–the husband brought into the marriage a net worth of over $80 million and the wife owned no real property and made around $25,000 per year. When the husband filed for divorce, he sought enforcement of the prenup. The question was whether or not the prenup should be enforced. Ultimately, the Court found that the prenup was fair and reasonable to the wife when it was first executed because she knew about her husband’s wealth and waived rights when the prenup was created.

Osborne: Does signing a prenup the day before the wedding without a lawyer invalidate your prenup?

In Osborne v. Osborne, the parties created their prenup agreement only a few hours before the marriage. They agreed that each party would not be entitled to one another’s separate property and they would waive their rights to alimony. The wife was an heir to a $17 million fortune, while the husband had next to nothing in assets. When the couple signed the agreement, the wife was represented by legal counsel and the husband was not. 

Ultimately, the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the Osborne prenup as valid and enforceable, finding that the husband, who had significantly less wealth than the wife at the time of the agreement, did not enter into the contract under duress, even despite signing it a day before the wedding, without an attorney.

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You are writing your life story.

Get on the same page with a prenup.

For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.

You are writing your life story. Get on the same page with a prenup. For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.
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