All too often I am contacted by people who are getting married within a few short weeks (or less) and either they want a prenuptial agreement or they are being asked to sign one. Depending on the circumstances I may decline to represent them.
My preference is to get the ball rolling several months ahead of the wedding. Here’s why:
Most people contemplating a prenuptial agreement have a general idea of what they are seeking but there are usually many issues they have not considered. Once I have met with the client and discussed these additional issues, they often want to expand or change the scope of what their agreement will say. Further, a detailed financial disclosure is required from both future spouses, and it often takes time to determine the nature and value of property and debts and to accurately present a person’s income and expectancies, such as rights under trusts or anticipated inheritances. It is also preferable that the other party speak with an attorney to represent them in the negotiation of the terms of the prenuptial agreement, and I advise my client to suggest that. All of this takes time to do and to do it right.
Prenuptial agreements are not ironclad contracts. Think of them as a protective measure that can improve one’s bargaining position in the unfortunate event of a divorce. They are frequently challenged. And while in my experience and from my own research most agreements are upheld, it is often the agreements that are not prepared and handled carefully, including those done at the last minute, that are more likely to be challenged and sometimes thrown out by a court.
To assure that you have the best chance of having a binding, enforceable agreement, it is necessary to carefully draft the agreement and provide and review financial disclosures. It is also necessary to allow time for negotiations. It is important for an attorney to have enough time to review an agreement, understand the client’s objectives, negotiate its terms, and make sure the client understands the consequences of the agreement. This is why drafting and executing an agreement in a matter of days or weeks is not in your best interest.
If you are thinking about having a prenuptial agreement, or if you believe your fiancé is going to ask for one, do not delay in seeing an attorney experienced in the preparation of these agreements. The attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. can assist you with what is clearly something that is not very romantic but often necessary and advisable in today’s world.