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PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

Prenuptial Agreements are agreements made between parties before they marry about what will happen after they marry. Most often, prenuptial agreements specify what may happen if the parties divorce or when one of the parties dies. Often they contain provision about how the parties will keep things separate from what they are willing to combine as a divisible marital asset.

New Hampshire law recognizes pre-marital agreements entered into in New Hampshire or in other states. The state's divorce law for the division of property will enforce valid prenuptial contracts made in good faith by the parties. Prenuptial agreements cannot restrict or prevent orders for alimony or for child support. New Hampshire case law provides that an otherwise valid prenuptial agreement can be set aside in a divorce if the provisions of the agreement would yield an "unconscionable result." Prenuptial contracts are an effective way for parties who are marrying to assure that property owned before the marriage or large amounts of wealth remain with that spouse if death or divorce occurs.

New Hampshire's laws of inheritance upon death provide specific provisions made for the surviving spouse. A valid prenuptial agreement is the only way in which the surviving spouse can be prevented from claiming his or her minimum spousal share of the decedent's estate.

Prenuptial contracts are carefully scrutinized both in marital courts and probate courts. Very special attention is given that the agreement was fair when made, was made with full knowledge and disclosures by both parties before the marriage, and without any undue pressure or fraud involved. Prenuptial

"Prenuptial Agreements should have advice of attorneys for each party to be valid. "

agreements almost always require that each party to the contract have legal counsel if the agreement is be honored. Increasingly more and more lawyers will not represent one party to a prenuptial contract unless the other side has separate legal counsel as well because of the scrutiny courts apply to the contract.

If you are thinking of a prenuptial agreement, contact us long before your marriage date. New Hampshire has no law giving any recognition of "post-nuptial agreements." Once the marriage has occurred, it is too late to enter into a prenuptial agreement. The closer to the marriage you get, the greater the likelihood that the court may find undue pressure in the agreement and void it upon death or divorce. Allowing plenty of time also enables disclosure of assets and income, minimizing the chances for disclosure mistakes that could also jeopardize the agreement. If your divorce or an estate of a decedent spouse has a prenuptial agreement, you should also contact us to see how your rights may change under the agreement and whether you would be wise to seek to overturn the agreement as part of your case.

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