Below we’ve listed brief discussions of several common questions dealing with legal representation which we hope you find helpful and informative. These postings are for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice.
Legal Representation FAQs
A pre-nuptial agreement, also called an ante-nuptial agreement, is a contract between two people who are planning to marry. One or both partners may have certain assets he or she would like to protect in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. While it’s a common notion that the person who wants the pre-nuptial agreement is already thinking about divorce before the wedding even happens, this type of agreement can be helpful when this is a second marriage for one or both sides. Many divorced people have children from a first marriage or a prior relationship and they want to protect their assets for the kids.
My friend had a pre-nuptial agreement and when he got divorced, the judge did not even pay attention to it. So what’s the point?
For a pre-nuptial agreement to be enforceable by a court, certain criteria need to be met. The agreement should be drafted well in advance of the actual wedding so as to avoid either side feeling pressured to sign on the eve of the wedding. Certain states may have specific laws about how far in advance is sufficient. Secondly and very importantly there must be full financial disclosure of all assets and debts of each party. Lastly while it’s not essential that each side have an attorney to represent him or her, one attorney cannot represent both sides. If one person opts not to have legal counsel it is customary for that to be written into the agreement.
While it’s possible to get any legal form on line, the issue is whether or not the agreement will be fully enforceable if it’s challenged in court. So while the up-front cost for an online form may be very reasonable, if it’s not upheld by the court due to some defect in its preparation or its failure to follow the law, a judge may rule that the agreement is not enforceable.
Similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, a post-nuptial agreement is made after the parties are legally married. These types of agreements follow the same guidelines as a pre-nuptial agreement: both parties must have full financial disclosure and neither party should feel pressured to sign the agreement.
There are circumstances when the couple may not even have considered entering into a pre-nuptial agreement before the marriage, but have second thoughts after the wedding. In other instances, the parties may start down the divorce path, decide to put the divorce on hold, and live separately. They agree to certain rules to determine what will happen financially during their separation or if they eventually are divorced. Occasionally a person comes into an inheritance or other windfall that she or he wants to preserve for his or her children. In those matters and many other circumstances, the parties can enter into a post-nuptial agreement to determine the division of assets upon a divorce and/or death of either party. While these types of agreements are recognized under Massachusetts and New Hampshire law, not all states accept them. So, it’s always best to check with a family law attorney before signing this kind of agreement.