Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements are Prudent Planning, Not Reason for Suspicion
I have always thought about pre- and postnuptial agreements the same way I think about insurance: I hope I do not have to use it, but I am glad to know it is there in case I do. For newly engaged couples, there are few topics less romantic than a prenuptial agreement. It can be difficult to broach the topic, but these agreements can be tremendously valuable and useful in reducing litigation time, expense and stress if the marriage does not work out.
In discussing these agreements, it is important to stress that you are not casting any doubts about the success of the marriage. It is simply prudent planning. Healthy, happy couples sign prenuptial agreements in the same way they sign last wills and testaments.
Many clients are concerned that a request for a prenuptial agreement will be viewed suspiciously by his or her spouse-to-be. He or she may fear that the other person is attempting to take advantage of him or her. To allay these concerns, it is important to emphasize that this is a jointly negotiated agreement. Both parties should retain their own independent attorneys to draft and negotiate these agreements so that the final product is an agreement that meets both of their needs.
Are the benefits of a pre- or postnuptial agreement worth the awkwardness and discomfort in discussing and negotiating this topic? If I were to ask any of my clients, I suspect the answer would almost universally be “yes!” These agreements allow you to define whose property is whose; how to divide the property that will be accumulated during the marriage; and what, if any, support would be appropriate should the marriage end in divorce. To further protect the parties’ privacy and streamline any future litigation, parties to pre- or postnuptial agreement would be wise to consider including arbitration clauses. By doing this, parties can take months (and in some cases, a year or more) off their divorce litigation. They will also save considerable attorneys fees and litigation expenses.