Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Same-sex spouses and the importance of prenuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement will not determine how long an intended Massachusetts marriage will last, nor is it signed with a future divorce in mind. A prenup can set forth everything each spouse brings into the marriage and the manner in which assets will be treated in the event of one party's death or a divorce. A properly drafted prenuptial agreement will protect the interests of both sides -- whether it involves same-sex spouses or a heterosexual couple. Also, it is not only for those with substantial assets.

One partner may have established a successful business before the marriage, or one may own a cherished beach house. There may be an expected inheritance that needs protection. The division of all assets can be predetermined in a prenuptial agreement, rather than leaving possessions to be divided by a judge. In a significant percentage of marriages between same-sex couples, many years of cohabitation and assets accumulation as a couple preceded the marriage. Leaving these important decisions for a judge who is unfamiliar with the divorcing couple's unique circumstances can be disastrous.

The amount of child support to be paid is typically ordered by the court, but the spouses often decide matters related to alimony and include it in the agreement. Also, child custody issues are contentious in some same\-sex divorces, and even this can be addressed in the prenuptial agreement. In cases in which one spouse wants to leave an inheritance to someone other than the other spouse, it can be included in the prenup -- thereby avoiding litigation over asset division after one party's death.

Many Massachusetts same-sex spouses choose to utilize the experienced family law attorneys to assist with the drafting of a prenuptial agreement. A lawyer who is up to date of the ever-changing family laws applicable to same-sex couples can provide valuable input during this time. A prenup is an important document that could only come into play -- if at all -- after many years of marriage, and potential issues must be anticipated in the drafting of it.

Source: washingtonblade.com, "Why pre-nups are not only for the rich and famous", Lawrence S. Jacobs, Accessed on Oct. 7, 2016

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