As I reviewed some of my previous blogs, I realized my next piece would be an important one because it is my 50th blog post! A while back, I set out to write and post quality pieces on different topics and issues within family law. Looking back on some of my more popular posts, I realized that prenups have become a very popular talking point. In the past, I have covered areas on why people should consider prenups, new and different types of agreements, and more. Then I realized: I haven’t yet discussed what happens after someone decides to actually get a prenup. Once you make the decision to start the prenup process, what do you do?
I am often reminding clients (and potential clients) that when it comes to prenuptial agreements, every couple is different. There is a general framework for how the process goes, but it can often change depending on the course you and your partner seek to take. To this end, I have come up with a few key points to keep in mind once you decide to start the prenup process.
When it comes to prenups, the earlier you can start the process, the better off you will both be. Many couples get married about a year after the engagement, so there is plenty of time to have thoughtful discussions on the prenup. You will both assuredly be busy planning the wedding or taking care of related issues, but if you really want a prenup, it is best to start early! Besides just saving you some stress down the road, finalizing a prenup early can help to make the agreement more durable in the long-run. Prenups that are drafted very close to the wedding can sometimes fall prey to a challenge, especially if one spouse did not know about a prenup earlier.
Try your best to plan out what you would like to say.
I’m not saying you should have a speech written out and memorized, but you should be prepared to explain what you are actually trying to say. Many of us get nervous when it comes to serious conversations, especially when we may not be sure of the other person’s thoughts on the topic. However, if you really sit and think about why you want a prenup, it will automatically help you when you talk things over with your partner. Consider having a consultation with an experienced attorney about prenups. This may help you to clarify your goals. This will also help you to understand the factors that go into creating a valid agreement.
Manage your expectations.
While it is great to nail down your specific objectives, it is very important to keep in mind that the agreement is about both you and your partner. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – prenups do take time. In discussing your own objectives, it may become clear that there are other issues to be discussed. Don’t rush the final product. You can’t expect to have a full agreement completed in one sitting. When you and your partner take the time to have a comprehensive agreement, you will both be better off for the future.
Be mindful of your partner and his/her objectives.
Equally important as managing your expectations is to remember that your partner may have different goals than you. You will both undoubtedly be on the same page for many issues, but there will certainly be areas that you either don’t agree on at first, or you may have never even thought of in the first place! That’s okay! As you get into the process and you talk more about these issues, you will both have the chance to decide what is really important moving forward. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and understand why something may be so important to them. You may find that it really is important to you as well!
Adapt to the process.
As you go through the process, things may change! Maybe something you initially thought was very important is no longer a big deal, or maybe you realize that there are a lot more topics to cover than you anticipated. The point is that adapting throughout the process will make your prenup better.
Remember: Don’t get bogged down!
Keep in mind the issues that are the most important to you, but try to be understanding during discussions. We all have certain “non-negotiables,” but if you find that you and your partner are having a hard time agreeing on something, don’t get bogged down. Table the issue and come back to it at a different time. People often get stressed when they start arguing over the same point. I try to remind people to take their time and come back to it later. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are establishing how you will communicate with each other about finances and other important topics. Having these discussions before the marriage can prevent disputes from happening later on.