More and more people who wish to stay in their marriages are exploring the possibility of entering into Postnuptial Agreements (also referred to as Marital Agreements.) These are agreements that usually relate to the financial issues of a mature marriage in which the couple is experiencing a stress, but wishes to maintain the marriage and not divorce. Often, addressing financial issues can relieve the marriage and help it move forward successfully. Postnuptial agreements should be done very sensitively, with an understanding of all implications, legal and otherwise, that will flow from them.
In Massachusetts, postnuptial agreements are legal, but must meet certain conditions to be enforceable. They should be done with great care. An excellent way to proceed is through mediation, where the mediator helps the couple come to terms, and separate attorneys review and provide input. Another way is collaborative practice, where each of the spouses is represented by a collaboratively-trained attorney. In a series of face-to-face, four-way meetings, the spouses and their lawyers work on the agreement to meet the parties’ needs. Many times the couple works through their respective counsel to determine the terms of the postnuptial agreement.
A recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case on postnuptial agreements, Ansin v. Craven-Ansin, provides much information on what these agreements should contain to meet the fairness requirement imposed by law.
Laurie Israel is a frequent presenter at conferences, and has extensively written about postnuptial agreements. She is one of the nationwide experts in their field. Laurie works on postnuptial agreements for clients in all contexts, including in connection with marital mediations.
In our marital mediation practice, we meet with couples who want to preserve their marriages, but need our help. Too often struggling spouses think that divorce is their only choice. A carefully conceived written postnuptial agreement addressing a certain problem that is causing the marriage to derail is often exactly what a couple needs to eliminate the conflict that is tearing them apart. In our work, we have seen many marriages begin to flourish again after a postnuptial agreement is carefully conceived and signed by the spouses.
For more information on postnuptial agreements, visit Mediation to Stay Married and Marital Mediation com. You can also follow @marriagemediate on Twitter, and visit the Marital Mediation facebook page. Marital mediation is also on LinkedIn.