A premarital agreement is simply that: an agreement between two people who wish to marry that defines the financial arrangement during their marriage and deals with support or maintenance following dissolution of the marriage.
Who Needs A Premarital Agreement ?
Many people entering into second marriages or marriages later in life come into a relationship with substantial assets and/or children from prior relationships. It is natural for people to be concerned about what will happen to their property if the marriage is not successful and to be concerned for their children’s welfare in the event of their death.
Open discussions regarding money and financial matters are often difficult for many couples. Any couple who wish to begin their marriage with a sound understanding regarding financial matters and to avoid later disputes or even court battles may consider a premarital agreement.
What are the Legal Requirements for a Premarital Agreement?
In the state of California, Premarital Agreements are controlled by the California Family Code and must meet certain standards, primarily full disclosure. The law discourages handing the agreement to the other party just prior to the wedding ceremony and requires that the documents be received a certain length of time prior to the signing.
How Does a Couple Get a Premarital Agreement?
With the traditional premarital agreement, one party consults an attorney who writes the initial draft of the premarital agreement and then presents it to the other party or his/her attorney. This scenario frequently results in an agreement biased in favor of the party whom the attorney represents, which may lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings at a time when the couple really want to concentrate on their wedding plans and their future. Even under these circumstances, couples are frequently successful in finding middle ground if they have skilled and sensitive attorneys to guide them.
The Collaborative Premarital Agreement
When the collaborative principles are applied to the negotiation and preparation of premarital agreements, each party’s needs are addressed before a document is ever written. The couple and their respective attorneys meet to discuss their underlying concerns, interests and goals, and then the collaborative agreement is drafted and finalized.
While this approach may take a little more time, most couples find it to be a very enlightening experience that brings them closer together.