A prenuptial agreement, sometimes called a “prenup,” is a contract that individuals enter into with their soon-to-be marital partners. In Massachusetts, individuals create prenuptial agreements to protect their premarital assets, avoid incurring the costs of their future spouses’ debts and to divide marital assets in the event that their marriages end in divorce.

There are certain things that prenuptial agreements cannot address. For example, a prenup cannot establish child custody and visitation matters. This is because decisions made regarding kids in the courts must be done with the consideration of the children’s best interests as a priority. This cannot be done in advance of the situations that give rise to custodial negotiations.

However, prenuptial agreements can be helpful for taking the ambiguity out of money matters, as they may create conflict in marital partners. Partners can address if their retirement accounts will be held separately or jointly, if they will share credit cards or maintain their own liabilities and agree that property, whether real or personal, held prior to the marriage should stay as such after the wedding.

A prenup can help a person provide for their children from a prior marriage. In most cases, spouses inherit from each other when their significant others pass. But, through a prenuptial agreement, a person could stipulate that their non-marital children are entitled to their wealth rather than their current spouse.

A prenup can answer a lot of divorce-related money questions and help streamline the divorce process as a couple’s marriage ends. Like other agreements, prenups must follow certain legal requirements in order to be valid, so it is important that people who wish to draft them work with family law attorneys to ensure legal compliance.