Generally, prenuptial agreements simply set out what a couple wishes to define as separate property versus joint/marital property, and in the event of divorce they lay out how their assets will be divided and how they want to address the issue of alimony. It is best for a couple seeking a prenuptial agreement not to wait until the last minute. Each side must be prepared to provide the other with full financial disclosure, and it is preferred that each party have his/her own attorney to review and negotiate the terms of this contract. These contracts are meant to provide engaged couples with peace of mind.
Some couples are unable to finalize a prenuptial agreement before their wedding, but they still want to have a contract formalizing their understanding of what will be defined as separate versus marital property, and the limitations they want to set with respect to alimony or spousal support. This can be accomplished with a postnuptial agreement.
Regina has written and lectured extensively on the importance of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, not just for second marriages or those with significant assets. Financial security is a common goal shared by many, and those entering into a committed partnership need to be able to have candid discussions about money, along with a plan to minimize uncertainty and chaos in the event of a separation or divorce.
Here are some questions for engaged couples to consider:
- Wedding Budget – How will you finance your wedding? The national average is about $30,000 per wedding. Pick your venue early and determine your guest list asap. (Venue sizes and other vendor prices are determined based on the number of wedding guests). Interview several photographers, florists, musicians, caterers, and check references. Review all your contracts carefully.
- Discuss Finances– Have you fully disclosed your income, expenses, assets & liabilities? Do you want to exchange credit scores? Do you have enough life insurance? When will you update your estate documents and beneficiary designations? Are you in sync re your desire to save vs. spend? Do you need to see a Financial Planner together? How will you handle your household budget?
- Separate vs. Marital Assets– What assets do you want to keep as separate? Are you going to maintain a separate account for any inheritances, gifts, or premarital funds? What will you consider joint? Do you want to memorialize your understanding in a legal document?
- Alimony– Are you both self-supporting? Do you want to waive alimony or set caps on duration or amount with a prenuptial agreement?
- Conflict Resolution– How do you handle conflict together? Could you benefit from a class or some sessions with a couples counselor to improve your communication skills? A great book is Dr. Gottman’s “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”
- Mission/Vision/Values– Have you discussed your dreams and aspirations as a family? How often will you review the M/V/V? Do you want to establish quarterly or annual check-ins for the partnership?
The Role of a Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer
Engaging a prenuptial agreement lawyer is a critical step in crafting an agreement that is not only legally binding but also reflective of the couple’s unique circumstances and future goals. A skilled lawyer like Regina DeMeo brings invaluable expertise in matrimonial law, ensuring that your prenuptial agreement adheres to legal standards and mitigates the risk of future disputes. Regina’s role extends beyond legal counsel; she offers objective and unbiased advice, helping couples understand the implications of various clauses. Her expertise in negotiation and drafting customized agreements ensures that the final document is fair, equitable, and tailored to the specific needs of each couple.
Starting the Prenuptial Agreement Process
The process of drafting a prenuptial agreement begins with a comprehensive consultation with your lawyer. During this initial meeting, Regina DeMeo provides an opportunity for couples to outline their financial landscape and discuss their objectives for the agreement. This step is followed by a critical phase of full financial disclosure by both parties, encompassing all aspects of income, assets, and liabilities. Regina then drafts the prenuptial agreement based on these discussions, ensuring that it aligns with the couple’s shared vision. The couple then reviews the draft, making any necessary revisions before finalizing the agreement. This process, guided by Regina’s expertise, ensures that the agreement is a true reflection of the couple’s intentions and provides a solid foundation for their future together.