Are you interested in making a pre-nuptial agreement before your marriage, but don’t want it to strain your relationship? Making a pre-nuptial agreement using a Collaborative process may be the answer. People about to be married generally have high hopes for the marriage and don’t expect conflict to become a major problem. However, they rarely talk through the kinds of financial and other issues that can come up for them and may have different unspoken expectations. If a couple does talk through those issues and expectations in a calm and respectful way while the issues are still theoretical, it can put them on a better footing to start their marriage.
In a Collaborative prenuptial process, each future spouse has their own attorney to advise them, tell them about their options, and to help them decide what they want their prenuptial agreement to say. In addition to advising, Collaborative attorneys are specially trained to help clients reach agreement in a respectful way.
The clients and attorneys meet in a group to discuss what issues the couple wants the prenuptial agreement to address, and to find solutions that satisfy each future spouse. Each future spouse can also talk individually with their own attorney at any time during the process to make sure they understand how a potential agreement might affect them personally.
One option in a Collaborative Prenup process is to include a single communication coach or a coach for each future spouse. A Communication coach can help the couple learn healthy communication habits to aid in the prenuptial process and to help them in their future marriage.
In a non-Collaborative prenuptial process, usually, one attorney in consultation with their client drafts a proposed agreement, and then sends it to the other future spouse or their attorney. If changes are requested, the attorneys talk to each other and each to their own client, but the clients are not directly involved in the negotiations. In a Collaborative prenuptial agreement process, the future spouses are involved at each step of the process, with attorneys at their side and with coaches, if desired, to give them information and facilitate the conversations. The result is an agreement that the clients have co-created and fully understand.
One reason that couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement is to clarify the assets and debts that each person is bringing into the marriage, to help define what will be the separate property and separate debt of that spouse during the marriage. Some future spouses want to keep some or all of their earnings separate during the marriage, and to not create community property unless they agree to do so. Or, they might have a particular piece of property or a pension that they want to make sure stays separate. They may also want to waive or limit the possibility of spousal support at divorce, or to make agreements about inheritance rights. The content of a prenuptial agreement is tailored to the particular circumstances of the couple and their wishes.
The prenuptial agreement and how it was created can have a lasting effect on the marital relationship, so it is essential to be thoughtful about the process you select.