Premarital and Postmarital Agreements
What is a Premarital Agreement?
A Premarital Agreement, sometimes called a Prenuptial Agreement, is a set of rules created by an engaged couple to govern their financial lives during their marriage and to determine what will happen in terms of property division and spousal support if they should divorce. They believe that they can create their own rules to fit their unique situation, rules that will be preferable to those imposed by California family law.
What is a Postmarital Agreement?
Why Have One?
As to postmarital agreements, sometimes there is not enough time before the wedding to create a premarital agreement, so the couple waits until the flurry of wedding activity has died down and works on the agreement after their marriage takes place. Sometimes things happen that change a couple’s finances during their marriage; for example, one spouse may wish to protect his or her newly inherited separate property or one spouse seeks to be protected from the other spouse’s debt. Because there may be differences in the enforceability of premarital agreements vs. postmarital agreements, it is a good idea to get legal advice if time permits before choosing one method over the other.
The Collaborative process is tailor-made for drafting PMAs, as Collaborative attorneys are trained in mediation and interest-based Collaborative negotiation that takes both parties’ concerns and goals into account. It is also well-suited in that the agreement is drafted together, more as a planning process than an adversarial one.
What Does the Process Look Like?
- Each person’s goals for the marriage
- Each person’s goals for himself or herself
- Each person’s goals for the other person
- Each person’s concerns giving rise to his or her belief that a PMA is needed
- Each person’s concerns about the consequences of a PMA in terms of his or her own need for security and being cared for by the other person.
The attorneys draft the PMA based on their discussions with the engaged couple, and jointly present the first draft to the parties for their review and comments. Once the couple has provided their input, the Agreement is finalized.
What About the Rest of the Team?
In a Collaborative premarital or postmarital agreement Process, adding professionals other than the lawyers to the team can enhance the Process and strengthen the relationship. Working with a financial professional can help the couple understand their finances and make better plans and rules to live by – and also take the fear out of the commitment they are making and the Agreement they are drafting. Working with mental health professionals in the Process can prepare the couple for healthier negotiations and for their new or continuing life together, particularly when they are blending families and working with difficult emotional issues in the drafting of their agreement.
If you and your fiancé believe that you might want to create a Premarital Agreement, or if you and your spouse wish to create a Postmarital Agreement, the Collaborative professionals of Marin and Sonoma are trained to make this a productive and positive Process. To learn more, contact any of our professionals, all of whom would be pleased to discuss the Process and how it could best work for the two of you.