Sure, movie stars and millionaires can afford the expensive lawyers and law firms and can have a big crew preparing the prenup. But the most of us don’t have the means to hire some bigshot lawyer to make our prenuptial agreement. furthermore, most of us don’t have a big list of assets, houses and investment account that require a bigshot lawyer. after all, this is 2016 and we have everything online, even prenup online… all In this article, I will review some of the advantages and disadvantages and give a general explain what is the right procedure to follow when constructing the prenuptial agreement.
- prenup – why doing it yourself can be bad
- prenup – why doing it yourself can be good
- prenup – the preparations
- prenup – what can’t be on the prenup
- prenup – decision time
- prenup – the actual prenup
- prenup – additional reading
let us start by explaining some of the disadvantages of making your own marriage contract alone.
- your not a lawyer- … sorry for stating the obvious but my friend you are not a lawyer( unless you are a lawyer and if so go ahead and make your prenup alone…) and therefore you probably don’t know the ins and outs of the law. the prenuptial agreement is very important documents and you do not want in case of divorce to find out that you hold in your hand a silly piece of paper and not a binding law. to make a robust contract you need the help of an expert in the field.
- negotiating is best done when a third party is in the picture – let’s face it, negotiating with your loving fiancee is not easy. a prenup always brings with him some difficult emotions. after all the premarital agreement by his nature deals with an unfortunate disaster like divorce or sudden death. nobody wants to think of those possibilities before their marriage. these possibilities are best handled when they come from some third party which is less emotionally involved and can help decide who gets what in a case of divorce.
- you don’t want to argue with your sweetheart on money matters – at least not before the wedding… look, while negotiating the prenup, some subjects will turn up where you don’t see eye to eye with your second half. maybe you think that the family business should be yours exclusively in a case of divorce because it was originally yours, and maybe your spouse is sure the half the business belong to him because helps you with it and gives your marketing idea etc. it is not easy and can be cause for arguments and quarrels when you will tell your partner that he is absurd… you should let some other person take the heat for it, after all, he is getting paid to do just that…
- place of residence matters – where do you live? California? or maybe Indiana? I don’t mean to pry, I am just asking because the law concerning divorce is different in those states. you can read an example of it here on the paragraph about community property. actually, the law differs from state to state and you should know the specific law of your state if you want the marriage contract to be valid in your state.
well I have some good points, don’t I? well, now I will argue with myself and try to convince myself that making your own prenup is good. I hope I won’t end up hating myself…
- you are not a lawyer – wait, what? wasn’t this a reason for not doing it yourself? well yes but not being a lawyer has its merits. first of all, if you bring your lawyer and the other party bring his lawyer suddenly you are in the middle of law mambo jumbo blood bath. the whole process is suddenly cold and alienated. lawyers tend to make these procedure complicated. (not because they’re bad people, but because they want to protect their clients. and you and your sweetheart are not clients, you are lovers see?)
- filling the blank spots – when you are going to get married you usually know some stuff about each other. your favorite movie, your taste of food, hopefully, your feeling and thought etc. but how much money your fiancee put in stocks? Does he own some property in the Bahamas? oops, it never came in your dinner conversations? we usually don’t know the financial state of our loved one before the wedding. and we should. preparing the prenup agreement yourself makes you learn these things in depth. after you made a prenup you can’t claim ignorance, believe me. you will know your spouse financial state, at least as much as he does.
- your lawyer doesn’t know your spouse – unless your lawyer is also a close friend of your partner, he really doesn’t know much about your partner. he doesn’t know how much he can push or when to stop hammering. he doesn’t know how to say things in the “right” way that avoids a fight. he doesn’t know which button to push. the negotiation can take a deadly hit when somebody says the wrong thing at the wrong time.
- negotiation skills needed in marriage – if you are going to be married a long time (hopefully for life) you are bound to experience some huge bumps. some huge arguments (well fight 😉 ) and you will have some huge difference of views on some matters. sorry but you will… when this stuff occurs you will need special skills to cross that river safely. what skills will you need? well, you will need the skill to explain yourself in a way the other side will understand. you will need to know how to really listen to your partner. you will need to know how to compromise, how to let go and how to insist on things, assertively and not in an obnoxious way. these skills are exactly the same skill you use when negotiating a prenuptial agreement. it is better to learn it in the beginning of the relationship and not later after the misunderstanding cracks the relationship and leave scars.
- cheaper – should I really explain this clause? ok, I will. lawyers cost money, well, a lot of money, actually a great deal of money. when you do it yourself you save all that money and can invest it on your honeymoon 😀
before you actually draw the marriage contract there are some preliminary steps you should take:
- if you didn’t do it by now (shame on you 😡 ) you should agree with your partner to make a prenup… obviously, the two parties should agree that a prenup is a good thing. if you need some means of persuasion you can borrow some prenup pros from out “prenup pros and cons list“. if this is the first time you are talking about it, you should do it gently and affectionately. the most important thing is to make it clear that the prenuptial agreement purpose is not because you believe you will split. the prenup is not because you are looking for a way out, on the contrary, you are looking for a way to get deep in. it is not for the lack of love. this article will help you and if she shocked you ask her to sign the prenup let her read this article “ARE YOU AFRAID TO SIGN A PRENUP“. it is very important to talk to your partner as soon as possible so you have plenty of time to make the prenup.
- make your research. this is a good time for both of you to learn a bit about your state’s laws. even if you end up using a lawyer for the prenup it will be beneficial to know and understand the laws, after all, the prenuptial agreement can be very significant to your life in case of unfortunate divorce. the first step will be to read the prenup meaning and get yourself familiar with terms related to the prenuptial agreement. don’t stop there, read some more information and article on prenup laws (you know google right?). you don’t have to be the number one expert on the subject but you need to have a good grasp of it.
- get your papers in order. if like me, you are a little messy and have your papers stuffed on several binders, put away on several drawers you don’t even remember you have, it a good time to tidy up a little. get all your bank statements, credit card billing, and all those paper we really hate. you should know exactly that benefits you get from your place of work, all the assets and property you own. get all the information about your investments, and every other source of income.
- make a table of all your possessions and your spouse possessions so you can compare your assets and decide about the property division. pay attention – you should also write your debt on the list. a prenup includes not only assets but also debts and income.
- add to the list all yours and yours partner future gains.
- decide if the prenup will have a Sunset provision which means that the contract will lose its validity after some years.
- child support, custody, or visitation; all these depend on the court decision. the child’s favor is the most important thing so the law doesn’t give the couple the decision power on such matters. the state makes sure the child’s or future child welfare secured.
- no spouse can give away his alimony rights. the state is afraid that a weak side can be persuaded to give up his right and as a result will live in poverty.
- an incentive to divorce; the law takes a marriage very seriously and wants to make sure it will last, as a result you can’t put on the prenup things that can be considered that will encourage some party to file for divorce.
- prenup can’t state who will do chores, whether you will have pets, who will take the child to school etc. those things are subject to free will and the right to freedom.
now its time to make some decisions. the first decision is what part of the assets will not be considered mutual property. the prenup should state what will each spouse keep in his sole possessions when the marriage comes to an end by divorce or god forbid by death. remember that it the same for debts as well.
when deciding what stays in possessions of one side you should consider the possibility that the assets will gain profits and decide if the future profits and gain from that part of the property also stays in the hand of the original owner. if for example, one party owns a house that house should be written on both parties because that can make that clause in the prenup invalid.
you should also decide on the property will be shared properties.
you should decide how current debts will be paid when the couple will be married. will the original owner continue to be responsible for the debt?
what will happen to things you will buy or receive during the marriage. which will be considered mutual and which will be considered separated.
it is not “all or nothing” you can decide that if you get a divorce one party will get a monthly allowance or certain parts of the property or will get ownership on the family residence.
you should remember the prenuptial agreement you are going to sign would be reviewed in a case of divorce by the court so you should make an effort to make it valid. you can read this article on the 5 elements the Noriega contract should hold to be considered valid
if the prenuptial agreement is clearly not fair it will not be approved by the court.
ok, its time to write the agreement. every clause you write should be as specific as possible, that a stranger can understand what it means. this is because sometimes the couples are sure the everybody will understand what property they referring to but in the future, the court may find the prenup unclear and dismiss it in court.
the first thing you ought to do when constructing the agreement is getting a prenup document suitable for your state.
you can get online the prenup document by state here. you can fill the prenup online.
fill in the form carefully and thoroughly. this is not the time to hurry. pay attentions to every clause.
after you finished filling the document you have two choices: you can rely on yourself that you filled the form well and took care of all the important issues. the second option is to give the document to a lawyer that will review it and check his validity and scope. this doesn’t have to be expensive as it was in the past.you can do it cheaply online. if you filled the form on the link I showed you , at the and there is a link for the prenuptial agreement review. I think it is best to use it. it is not expensive and you would have more peace of mind knowing professionals checked your prenup.
good luck making you own prenuptial agreement!
- for more comprehensive information on writing your own prenup, I would suggest reading :Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair & Lasting Contract
- I am sure you hope to never use the prenup and live happily ever after. I think I can help you with that as well… I actually been reading a great book about the principles of good marriage life, hope you will enjoy it: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert