Premarital Agreements Establish a Solid Marriage Foundation
I help clients mediate or collaboratively create premarital agreements to identify in advance how they want to be respected during the marriage and after the marriage.
Wedding planning is exciting! The wedding is joyous celebration of love and commitment. In addition to looking for a venue, officiant, and photographer, a couple should also plan for their financial future. Premarital agreements allow families to establish a firm foundation for their marriage based on communication and jointly created expectations.
Premarital Agreements may address how any property (including assets and debts) will be used during the marriage and distributed if the marriage ends.
Premarital agreements help clients have hard conversations about about important property and financial expectations, such whether bank accounts should be separate or joint, how much each client spends, saving for retirement or college, and whether and how to pay off debt.
Many families can benefit from the use of a premarital agreement. It is especially beneficial for people in the following situations:
- Business owners who may want to protect a growing asset, and their spouse who may want to be protected from the business debt.
- People with significant assets.
- People who are marrying a partner with significant debt.
- Anyone entering a second marriage, perhaps to protect inheritance for children from the previous marriage.
Premarital agreements may benefit clients at all income levels and offer opportunities to truly establish a firm foundation for future discussions about assets and spending. These agreements may be modified as the family grows and changes.
Other Important Premarital Conversations and Agreements.
Families are able to use the safe-space and container that mediation and collaborative offer to have discussions about children and child-rearing and interacting with extended family members (for
example, where the family might vacation or spend holidays.) It's surprising how often these seemingly simple decisions cause conflict within the marriage and within the extended family. These types of premarital agreements may be emotionally important to the family.
Premarital Agreements Benefit from Balance
To ensure your premarital agreement is enforceable, it is best to make the terms as fair as possible to both clients. Also, clients should make the agreement well-before the wedding. An agreement that is signed on the day of the wedding may be seen as being forced on one client by the other. The agreement must be voluntary. And, it is vital that each client provide the other with a full overview of the assets and issues that are the subject of the agreement. Each client must have informed consent.
Working with an attorney while crafting an agreement benefits both clients. Your mediator and collaborative attorneys will ensure that each client is making decisions based on a full understanding of the assets or debts. The mediator and collaborative attorney will ask questions that the clients may not have considered.
As a mediator, I always encourage clients to independently consult with an attorney to ensure that they are fully informed, the agreement is fair, and voluntary. Review by an attorney substantially benefits the validity of the final agreement.