Why Recommend a Prenuptial Agreement?
February is a month of love. With Valentine’s Day in the middle of the month, many couples think about romance and find it a prime time to get engaged. As wedding planning gets underway, the need for a prenuptial agreement arises.
Prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy or for those who are marrying for the second (or third+) time, they’re recommended for anyone who has assets that they want to protect. Like an insurance policy, a prenuptial agreement is there if the need arises (but the hope is that it’s never really used).
Prenuptial agreements are tricky to draft because by their nature they are meant to protect parties from events that have not yet occurred. This forces the parties to the agreement to consider unpleasant events at a time when they are at their happiest, thinking about a long future together of marital bliss and the excitement of announcing their engagement and planning a wedding. Nonetheless, it is wise for lawyers to counsel their newly engaged clients about the benefit of a prenuptial agreement, so that they may avoid the future issues that can occur with a messy divorce or the death of a spouse.
The process of negotiating and drafting a prenuptial agreement is not simple, but it is beneficial for couples in many ways.
First, it forces couples to get a full understanding of the assets that they have (including potential inheritances, trusts, and values of items such as real property and artwork) and the assets that the other party brings to the marriage.
In addition, in negotiating the prenuptial agreement, parties must have hard conversations about money, spending and what they anticipate their marital life will look like – for example, do they plan to have children, does one party envision not working or working less than they now do, will they purchase a home and what happens to it if the marriage doesn’t survive. Just having these discussions can sometimes determine whether couples are really compatible or not.
Working through the process of negotiating a prenuptial agreement also gives couples insight on how they will be able to work together even when they may have differing opinions and how they can problem solve to get to an outcome where neither is victorious but both are at least satisfied. These are important skills to develop not only to bring finality to the agreement but also to navigate a long lasting marital relationship.
As lawyers guiding clients through this process, our job is to have our clients consider these tough issues and answer these hard questions and compromise with each other – all skills we hope they will continue to use when our jobs are done.
A prenuptial agreement is not typically associated with the love and romance most people think about when February arises. In fact, many consider prenuptial agreements unromantic. Nonetheless, the compromise, give and take, and sacrifice on both sides that prenuptial agreements require are all building blocks for a strong relationship for now and for the future.
Is one of your areas of practice family law, like contributing attorney and chair, Jennifer Brandt? Make sure you update your profile to let potential clients know that you’re available to talk about prenuptial agreements. It was one of our leading AOPs for 2022, and continues to be popular into the new year.