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  • Writer's pictureSummers Family Law

Tearing Up the Prenup: A Massachusetts Attorney's Playbook

As a family law attorney practicing in Massachusetts, I often get asked about challenging prenuptial agreements. While prenups are legally binding contracts, there are certain circumstances where they can be deemed unenforceable and "thrown out" by the court. In this blog post, I'll share my insights on the legal grounds for challenging a prenup in Massachusetts and provide real-life examples to help you understand your options.


Lack of Financial Disclosure


In Massachusetts, both parties are required to make full and fair disclosure of their assets, liabilities, and income before signing a prenup. If one spouse intentionally or accidentally hides assets or debts, the prenup may be invalidated. The court views financial transparency as crucial for ensuring that both parties enter into the agreement with full knowledge and understanding of each other's financial situation.


Duress or Coercion


A prenup signed under duress, coercion, or undue pressure is vulnerable to being thrown out. The court will consider factors such as the timing of the presentation of the prenup (e.g., shortly before the wedding), emotional manipulation, the sophistication of the parties, lack of legal representation, financial disparity, and immigration status. If the court determines that one party was forced or coerced into signing the agreement, it may deem the prenup unenforceable.


Unconscionability


If the terms of the prenup are deemed "unconscionable" or grossly unfair, the court may refuse to enforce it. This typically occurs when there is a significant change in circumstances between the time the prenup was signed and the time of divorce, rendering the original terms unreasonable or one-sided.


Violation of Public Policy


Prenups cannot dictate child custody or child support arrangements, as these are matters of public policy determined by the court based on the best interests of the child. If a prenup includes clauses that violate public policy, those clauses may be deemed unenforceable, or the entire agreement may be thrown out.


Ambiguous Language


If the language in a prenup is ambiguous, contradictory, or unclear, the court may have difficulty interpreting and enforcing the agreement. In such cases, the court may choose to throw out the prenup altogether. This highlights the importance of clear and unambiguous language in drafting prenuptial agreements.


It's important to note that challenging a prenup is not an easy task, and the burden of proof lies with the party seeking to invalidate the agreement. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to challenge your prenup, it's crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney in Massachusetts. They can evaluate your specific circumstances and advise you on the best course of action.


Remember, every case is unique, and the court's decision will depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your prenup. By understanding the legal grounds for challenging a prenup, you can make an informed decision about whether to pursue this route or explore alternative options, such as mediation or negotiation.


Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon any information provided without seeking professional legal counsel. The author does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information provided. This blog is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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