How to Approach the Prenup Conversation Gracefully
I have always said that when approached gracefully, a premarital agreement can strengthen a relationship. I do believe that is true, but the simple reality is that most people have no earthly idea how to approach a prenup gracefully. From either side. Too often, one fiancé dumps the idea of a prenup in the other fiancée’s lap unexpectedly at the last minute, or god forbid has a lawyer call instead. Or alternatively, the recipient bursts in to tears at the mere mention of the idea, having no idea what the prenup actually says. Not good moves to build trust.
So how exactly does one approach a prenup gracefully? Good question. I have four tips for you.
1. First, know that you have a prenup already, whether you want one or not. The default rules of the State dictate what happens to your assets during and after any marriage. That, my friends, is a prenup. So the question here isn’t whether you want a prenup, it’s whether the prenup the State gave you supports your philosophy of marriage. If not, then you might want an agreement that better captures what you and your future spouse believe.
2. Second, approach the prenup conversation from the perspective that you want to make your coming marriage stronger by discussing difficult subjects in advance. Trust me, I’m a divorce lawyer and I know what I’m talking about here – sooner or later, disagreements about money will come up, and they’ll stay up. The more you discuss in advance, the less strain you experience later. It’s that simple. Talk about it now.
3. Third, put yourself in your fiancé’s shoes before you bring up the idea of a prenup. This one is not easy, of course, but it’s vital to do before you begin. You’ve got to imagine the needs and concerns your future partner has with regards to money. For better or worse, once you become married, you become financially responsible for your spouse. You really need to understand what that means, and what challenges your spouse is facing before you can envision a good prenup. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand the financial considerations that the other party is facing.
4. Fourth, consider alternative approaches to drafting the agreement such as mediation and collaborative drafting. More and more couples are mediating prenups these days – that means that the couples hire one lawyer to help them come up with the agreement, then hire separate lawyers to review it. The cost is bit higher, but the result is often much stronger. If that seems too expensive, then the collaborative approach might work for you – in this process, all lawyers and both parties meet together in conference to come up with the terms. This way you only need two lawyers instead of three.
5. Finally, be transparent. Involve your fiancé in each step of the process you go through to come up with the terms of the agreement. Your fiancé is your partner – treat him as such. (To be clear, I’m not suggesting you bring your fiancé to office meeting with your attorney – those meetings should remain private).
If you follow these five steps, your process should not only be palatable, but useful for your marriage as well. We handle quite a few prenups in our office, and they happen to be my favorite area of practice, so I’m happy to chat anytime on the issue. If you have questions feel free to give us a call.
Categories: Premarital Agreements