Are you engaged to be married for the first time with an ownership interest in a lucrative family business started by your grandfather? Or, perhaps you’ve found a partner that you intend to marry after your first marriage resulted in divorce, leaving you with 40% less in your 401(k) after 25 years of employment and several more years of financial responsibility to support your 2 children. Or, for other varying reasons, you’re considering a Premarital Agreement before the nuptials. Yet, you worry that this is anti-romantic and signals that there is trouble in the relationship from the start.
These are natural and understandable misgivings that require careful thought on the process you will use to negotiate the terms of the Agreement to assure that this relationship is strengthened and that the fear each of you may have about your future is addressed. Attorneys have used the Collaborative Process to help couples find respectful resolutions to divorce outside of court for some time. And yet, it has been given less attention when couples are about to marry even though it fits quite well.
How Does a Premarital Agreement (Prenup) Work?
In the Collaborative Process, you and your soon-to-be spouse will make your own decisions in a room together where your discussions are guided by your chosen legal, financial and mental health professionals as needed. Rather than opening with discussions about the outcome you each are looking for and why, you develop and share with one another your interests and goals. For example, an individual goal for each of you might be to have financial security. A joint or mutual goal may be to have an estate plan that allows for financial stability in the event one of you were to die. By sharing your interests and goals together, you have a more clear understanding of financial motivations you each may have for a particular financial outcome.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Prenup?
The role of your attorney in the Collaborative Process is to support you in finding a solution that will best meet the financial needs of each of you, which is the same role of the attorney for your soon-to-be spouse. In other words, the attorneys are part of a team effort with a common goal of the financial protection of each of you. However, it is not uncommon that differing views of financial outcomes surface and evoke strong emotions. While unsettling, be assured that a well-trained mental health collaborative professional, sometimes known as the Divorce Coach or Family Specialist, will have had an opportunity to get to know each of you and can help each of you express these feelings rather then keep them hidden. This opportunity to share your fear, apprehension, vulnerability or other feeling can strengthen your relationship for the future.
How Can a Financial Professional Help You Create a Premarital Agreement?
The financial professional can help you sort out financial issues, particularly when there is a family business or wealth disparity. In some cases, there may be complex tax, trust or stock issues that the financial professional can work directly with you, your soon-to-be spouse and your Collaborative attorneys to better understand and to develop meaningful resolutions. Additional professionals may also be needed such as business valuation experts or specialized tax experts. These other professionals are available to you, your soon-to-be spouse and your team of collaborative professionals to provide information, making sure that everyone is engaged and fully informed.
Should You Get A Prenuptial Agreement?
If a fundamental commitment of your marriage is to look out for one another and to ensure that you each have financial protections, the Collaborative Process will provide you with the needed resources to accomplish those goals in creating a Premarital Agreement. You will have the safeguards of a team to make sure you communicate well and that you are fully informed about the facts, the law and the finances to resolve the issues that may arise in developing the Premarital Agreement. This is an opportunity to strengthen rather than polarize your relationship as you approach marriage.
If you’d like more information about how the Collaborative Law Process can help you achieve your goals, please call Jean Biesecker, J.D. MSW. I’d be happy to talk with you and learn more about your situation and provide you with more information about the Collaborative Process.
About Jean Biesecker, J.D., MSW
Jean’s family law and dispute resolution practice serves clients in the greater Philadelphia community. Jean’s non-traditional approaches to separation and divorce provides her clients with support and compassion. The focus of her practice is to determine solutions that will meet her clients’ needs and those of their family into the future.
Click here to learn more about Jean Biesecker, J.D., MSW