When you’ve just said “Yes” to your partner, and all you can think about is planning your life together, a prenuptial agreement may be the last thing on your mind. You’re looking forward to happiness and a lifetime of love, therefore divorce hasn’t even crossed your mind. Or, maybe you’re just starting and don’t have many assets to your name, so you think a prenup wouldn’t be worth the hassle.
But, with divorce rates increasing every year, couples nowadays are more pragmatic, and they understand the importance of having a marital agreement that will guide them as they navigate through their marriage, should issues arise, or in the event of a divorce or death. With more couples waiting to get married, prenuptial agreements have become more common than one might think.
Claudette Delacerna, an NYC-based divorce lawyer, shares a few reminders and steps on how to get a prenup before your wedding:
1. Understand What It Is for and What Should Be Included
This premarital agreement entails rights for, and obligations from, the parties involved, and both of you must recognize this. Prenuptial agreements aren’t a bad thing. Instead of thinking that you are preparing for the worst, believe that this whole process can strengthen you as a couple.
Talk to your partner as early as possible about why a premarital agreement might be the right move for the two of you. Make a list of your possessions, debts, and health concerns. Aside from division of assets, there are a lot of other matters that a prenuptial agreement covers, such as:
2. Draft the Contract and Consult a Lawyer for Legal Advice When learning how to get a prenuptial agreement, it’s highly advised to seek the assistance of a professional. This agreement is completely tailored to your needs and concerns. Hire a lawyer to draft the contract for you, and for you to gain valuable legal advice on the matter at hand. But, if you’re doing this by yourself and do not have an idea where to start, there are a lot of templates that you can download online. You’ll need to modify this according to what you agreed upon and what works best for you and your spouse-to-be, but it’s always best to consult with a prenup lawyer before proceeding with anything so that you have someone to walk you through the legal obligations. The cost will depend on the state you’re living in, the agreement’s complexity, and how long the negotiations take.
While it’s good to seek individual counsel, Delacerna says that one lawyer is also acceptable for both of you. Find someone that you can trust who is fair, understanding, and compassionate and someone who can ensure that both you and your spouse are taken care of.
3. Sign It and Have It Notarized
Once finalized, your prenuptial agreement should be signed and dated by both you and your future spouse. Depending on your state, you may need one or two witnesses during the signing of the contract. After this, you must get the agreement notarized and make three copies. While you and your partner will have a copy each, it’s always suitable for a third party, which is usually your lawyer, to hold on to another copy for safekeeping.
A prenuptial agreement gives you and your future spouse a chance to have a plan in place that you hopefully won’t need in the future. But whether or not you intend to get a prenup, you are building a life and a family with your partner, so you still need to discuss the kind of financial partnership that you’ll have in your marriage. You will have this conversation sooner or later—hashing out the details early on will save you from difficult discussions when you’re already married.