In a previous BLOG from the same case, we discussed some extraordinary and seemingly one-sided separation agreement language dealing with the issue of removal. Schechter v. Schechter, Mass. App. Ct. No. 13-P-1035. September 9, 2015, is the case that keeps on giving. Because in the same decision from the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the case also gave us insight into the requirements necessary for an enforceable prenuptial agreement.
In Schechter, the court found that the agreement had been signed by the wife “just days before her marriage, and while she was seven months pregnant.” Despite the fact that both parties were represented by counsel, the court found that the negotiation was “brief and one-sided.” Husband’s attorney presented wife’s attorney with his proposal one week before the wedding and requested she sign it the following day, which she did.
The controlling case in Massachusetts for prenuptial agreements is DeMatteo v. DeMatteo, 436 Mass. 18 (2002). That case requires, among other, a full financial disclosure between the parties. In Schechter, the court found that husband had not made a full financial disclosure to wife prior to her signing the agreement. And even though, at the signing of the prenuptial agreement, the husband had assets worth over $7.5 million dollars, and wife only had approximately $2 thousand dollars, husband refused wife’s attorney’s request that the alimony provision in the agreement be changed to provide wife more than the proposed $5 thousand dollars for each full year of marriage (or just $416/month) – a provision the court found to be unfair.
“The combination of [husband]’s failure to make a complete disclosure of his assets and income, the circumstances surrounding the negotiation and execution of the agreement, and the meager provision for alimony” all combined to convince the Appeals Court to uphold the trial court’s determination that the prenuptial agreement was “unfair and unreasonable, and thus invalid.”
This case emphasizes the need for an attorney who understands the legal requirements that should be met for an enforceable prenuptial agreement. Contact the attorneys at Hutchins Law, P.C. today, to discuss how you can protect yourself, if you want a prenuptial agreement drawn up, or you’re being asked to sign one.