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At a time of significant conflict in your marriage, when you and your spouse are wishing for marital peace but failing to achieve it, your instincts may tell you that professional dispute resolution and a written agreement -- a kind of blueprint -- would be a smart investment in the future of your marriage.
Married couples in Massachusetts are, more and more, seeking the services of a lawyer or mediator to help resolve conflict and thereby steady a faltering marriage. The written agreement -- whether produced through mediation or through traditional, lawyer-assisted negotiation -- is referred to as a postnuptial agreement (or marital agreement).
The Right Professional
Marion Lee Wasserman's emphasis on dispute resolution rather than dispute escalation, coupled with her expertise in family law and in the drafting and negotiation of contracts, makes her an excellent choice to work with you on a postnuptial agreement.
Choosing the Process
Marion may work with you as legal counsel, reviewing, drafting and negotiating the postnuptial agreement. Or, instead, she may work with you and your spouse as a neutral mediator. If you and your spouse decide to use Marion as a mediator, she will help you determine whether you prefer to have an informal memorandum, outlining points of agreement, or a formal, detailed contract, with the same level of formality used for prenuptial agreements. For a formal agreement, Marion will require that you each obtain individual legal counsel to advise you prior to signing the agreement.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
In the eyes of a court, the validity and enforceability of the postnuptial agreement will be affected by whether or not the agreement was reached through a balanced and fair process, with the benefit of individual legal counsel. (See Marion's article, "Postnuptial Agreements in Massachusetts: The Importance of Legal Counsel.")
Sorting Through the Issues
Each couple seeking a postnuptial agreement will have a unique set of issues they wish to resolve. Marion will work with you to sort through the issues in dispute and to determine which issues can appropriately be addressed in a formal postnuptial agreement. The terms of a postnuptial agreement are practical and forward-looking and must not seek to impose any obligation on either party that would, in the eyes of a court, run counter to public policy considerations.
The Ansin Case and Divorce
In the 2010 case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the enforceability of a postnuptial agreement (Ansin v. Craven-Ansin, 457 Mass. 283, 2010), the agreement provisions were intended to maintain the marriage, while also establishing asset division and other terms (for example, health insurance and life insurance terms) that would take effect in the event the marriage ended in divorce. How and whether the possibility of divorce enters into your marital conversation is an important question to be asked, and each spouse will have an answer unique to him or her. These are not easy matters to discuss, but your marriage is worth the effort.
Call to inquire about an initial consultation.
*The terms "Postnuptial Agreement" and "Marital Agreement" may be used interchangeably. In the Ansin v. Ansin-Craven case, referenced on this page, the Court favored the term "Marital Agreement" but acknowledged that both terms are in common use.