Prenuptial Agreements and Collaborative Practice
You’ve fallen in love, your intended is a wonderful person and you’ve decided to get married! But . . . it’s complicated. He has children from a prior marriage and she makes a lot more money and has many more assets. You both want to protect your assets for yourselves if the marriage does not work out, or for your children, if you are the first to die. So, you’ve agreed you need a prenuptial agreement.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is also called an antenuptial agreement. It describes who gets what in the event of divorce or death. It’s simple, right? Unfortunately no. When you start talking about it, things get complicated. What if I sell my house to marry you and then we get divorced – where and how will I live? What if I think I will need alimony (“maintenance” in Missouri) if we get divorced and you say you won’t pay it? What if we both invest in a house and I die – will my children get any benefit from the house? What if we have children together? How will we provide for our children and children from a prior relationship? These are just some of the questions you may need to think about and resolve. Better to do so prior to your marriage and get a written agreement so that there are no misunderstandings.
Working Through the Prenuptial Agreement
But, is there a way to resolve these issues without compromising (or ruining!) your relationship with your intended?
Collaborative practice is ideal for discussion about and negotiation of prenuptial agreements which can be lengthy and complex documents. In Missouri, a prenuptial agreement may be significantly weakened if one party is not represented by an attorney. In the collaborative practice setting, each party will have an attorney trained in the collaborative process who can help both of you identify and understand what terms you should consider for the agreement and why. There will also be one or two mental health professionals present throughout the process to provide, not therapy, but support for each of you. There will also be a financial professional who will provide information about budgets, taxes, cash flow and other pertinent and important information about your respective financial positions and how they might be affected by the terms under consideration. This team will be dedicated to helping you think about and resolve tough questions and will assist you and your intended in reaching the best agreement for both of you and for your children.
Benefits: Prenuptual Agreements in Collaborative Process
Collaborative practice can strengthen your prenuptial agreement in that the terms will have been fully explored, explained and considered by both parties. In addition, it can make the negotiation of the terms of the agreement much more comfortable and less tense as the collaborative team assists both parties to reach an agreement they understand and believe they can live with.
Discussing and deciding on your financial future together in a supportive environment with trained professionals is a great way to set the stage for your new life together. After all, a successful marriage is, in great part, a collaboration!
Learn More About the Collaborative Process
If your goal is to have a positive prenuptial conversation the key is to find the best process for having that conversation. The most supportive process for working through the complicated "what if" scenarios. A step you can take today is to review the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law website for more information, and a list of collaborative law professionals, trained in the collaborative process. Many professionals in the St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association offer an initial consultation at no charge, so you will have an opportunity to determine the best fit for you in the prenuptial agreement process.