Posted on: 7 June 2017Share
As busy as you are planning your wedding, it's crucial that you stop and take the time to put together a prenuptial agreement, for both you and your future spouse's benefit. That's often much easier said than done, though, given the nature of the document and the complexity of family law. Here are eight helpful ideas to help you through the process, and on to the marital bliss that awaits.
1. Know What's At Stake
Before being married and while planning your wedding and life together, it's all too easy to become caught up in the romance and mutual adoration, but make no mistake about it: a prenuptial agreement is a serious, legal, and highly beneficial document. Beyond the rosy premarital romance, you both need to look after your own interests, anticipating anything that can happen in the future.
While you don't want this paperwork to interfere with the wonderful and evolving relationship you have, you don't want to sacrifice your well-being and provisions down the line in the event the relationship doesn't stand the test of time.
2. Familiarize Yourselves With The Legal Terms
Although a lawyer should eventually oversee your prenup, as you begin to prepare for it, it's important that you be aware of some of the more relevant legal terms governing this area of law. The following are some of the more common terms you'll need to know:
- Separate property assets: This are things you bring into the marriage, not anything acquired thereafter.
- Marital property: Anything of value acquired while you are married.
- Invalid prenuptial provision: Any provision of the prenup deemed illegal and thus, invalid, by the courts, such as child support (which is a separate issue).
- Separation or termination event: An occurrence which signifies the end of the marriage, initiation of the prenuptial agreement, or both.
- Sunset clause: Any special stipulation included in the prenup, such as an annual renewal agreement, requirement for children to be born, expiration date or other exception to the general contract.
3. Write Your Rough-Drafts Alone
Despite the fact that you and your future spouse may do everything together, it's more beneficial for each of you to be alone when you prepare a rough-draft of your prenups. This is simply because the prenup is suppose to be looking out for both you and your partner, but as individual entities and not a couple. You both need to identify the assets and liabilities that belong exclusively to one or the other and legally distinguish them.
Prenups can make people feel unloved or as if they can't actually trust their partner, even though these decisions are strictly legal and unemotional. It's important to separate your feelings from the documents and treat them like legal obligations, not representative of how you actually feel about each other.
4. Review Your Drafts Together
Because both of you will be signing the finished document, you need to know the information contained within it; however, this review should not be a time to challenge the other person's wishes and declarations. In fact, that should not happen without very good reason and without a lawyer present. Simply look over the paperwork so there are no major surprises later.
5. Finalize The Documents
Beyond the division of assets and liabilities, either you or your partner may include stipulations in the prenup that govern how money matters, among other things, are to be handled during the marriage. For example, one party may declare the other's failure to remain gainfully employed a termination event and grounds for further action. Discuss with your future spouse all of the points that really matter to both of you and include them as you prepare a finalized copy.
All of the information will eventually be prepared in a legally acceptable and binding way by your attorneys, but it's good to put all of this on the table now.
6. Give Each Other Time To Read And Analyze The Prenups
In the future, if the two of you did divorce, one ground for nullifying your prenup could be that either of you did not actually read and understand it. That means you both want to make sure there are no misunderstood parts of the document and that each of you has been allowed sufficient time to fully absorb and comprehend the ramifications of all details.
While you're doing this, try not to allow the thought of something that may never happen - your divorce, interfere with your ongoing premarital bliss. Despite the fact that a prenup should be created, it should not be a precursor to arguments or hurt feelings.
7. Don't Allow Emotions To Interfere
No matter how compatible you and your partner are or how deep your love runs, a prenup can come between you, but only if you let it. In reality, it's just a sheet of paper designed to protect both of you in the event of separation or divorce, only it may feel like an insult or rejection while you're putting it together. This doesn't mean, however, that either of you should change the division of property because the other feels badly about it. Legally, the paperwork will speak for itself and ultimately, it doesn't reflect the emotions you have for each other.
8. Hire Separate Lawyers
Because the prenup agreements you sign represent each of your interests, it is better to have two separate family lawyers involved. The state you live in may actually require you to both hire your own attorneys; thus, if you're still insistent on using the same one, you may be disappointed. While having separate lawyers may imply a "me vs. you" scenario, it really for your own good now and in the future. A prenup may not be honored if, in fact, the same attorney worked for both parties signing it.
Since a prenup can provide the first real challenge to a relationship, it's good to know ahead of time what may be involved. Both of you going into it with your eyes and hearts wide open, should mean it will all go well. Having qualified family attorneys at your service will also be a major plus. To get started, check out attorneys' sites like http://www.ivylawgroup.com.