By Sheryl Friedrichs, Esq.
The venue has been booked, the caterer and photographer selected, the dresses purchased, the tuxedos rented, and the invitations are in the mail. This is the point when many clients think to call an attorney regarding a prenuptial agreement.
When an engaged person contacts an attorney inquiring about a prenuptial agreement, the person calling generally assumes that the attorney will work with both people to negotiate the terms. Unfortunately, for one attorney to work with both prospective spouses would be a conflict of interest.
In order to minimize the chances that a prenuptial agreement might later be challenged, each prospective spouse is encouraged to hire his/her own attorney. The traditional process is, even in the best of circumstances, somewhat adversarial and unduly stressful. And, this is happening most of the time while the couple is in the final stages of preparing for their wedding.
A better way to work through a prenuptial negotiation is for each prospective spouse to hire a collaborative attorney and conduct the negotiations in a collaborative environment. Unlike the traditional negotiation process, in a collaborative negotiation the couple – with both attorneys present – explore their shared vision for their upcoming marriage and discuss the concerns each person has regarding what would happen in the event the marriage should end in divorce.
Your negotiation might benefit from a team approach. Other collaborative-trained professionals are available to help work through difficult emotional issues and complex financial issues. Especially if the marriage is a subsequent marriage involving at least one person who has acquired wealth, a financial neutral can help create a plan that addresses the needs of each prospective spouse. A collaborative-trained marriage counselor can help navigate the emotional minefields frequently caused by outside influencers. Such influencers might include adult children from a previous marriage or might be parents of the couple entering into a first marriage.
Negotiating, drafting and editing a prenuptial agreement takes time. The collaborative process is very efficient, as both attorneys are present when the discussions take place. With time being of the essence in most cases, this is a practical advantage of using the collaborative process to negotiate your prenuptial agreement.