Premarital Agreements: Solving the Planning Issues Without the “D” Word

When a couple is planning to marry, either or both may be urged by friends, family and/or a financial advisor to consult an attorney to prepare a Premarital Agreement (also known as a Prenuptial Agreement). Many hopeful brides and grooms immediately reject the idea of a Premarital Agreement. The couple recoil from even thinking about potential problems during their marriage. Yet addressing their shared plans could be practical and strengthen their commitment.

What is a Premarital Agreement?

A Premarital Agreement is “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” Family Code section 1610. Normally, the contract deals with straightforward financial and legal issues in the event of a divorce or a death — what will be done with the house, investments, retirement accounts, spousal support and/or other assets.

The Benefits of a Premarital Agreement

Getting married can affect your ownership of property, and more specifically, your business if you are a business owner. One way to protect an estate in the event of a divorce is to specify in a Premarital Agreement each party’s property ownership and clarify their respective property rights should the marriage end. A Premarital Agreement can reduce the conflict that is normally associated with divorce, avoid court intervention regarding questions of property division and also serve as an effective estate planning tool.

How to Bring Up the Premarital Agreement Conversation

It’s easy to put off important elements of wedding planning that are less fun. I’ll admit I’d much rather go to a cake tasting than talk to my future husband about money in the event that we decide to go our separate ways, and I’m a divorce attorney!

So here’s how to bring up the topic, WITHOUT using the words, “By the way, when we divorce I’m keeping the house, handsome.”

  • Timing

It’s all about the timing. Do a little planning and set the scene when you both will be in a positive frame of mind. It probably isn’t the best idea to bring it up when you are both tired after a long day of work or after a heated argument.

  • Be Straightforward

Show your fiancee that you’re behaving in a clear-headed manner about this potentially awkward topic. They’ll respect you all the more for it.

  • Take the Pressure Off

Sometimes it is easier to blame someone else and take the heat off of yourself. Suggesting that an attorney recommended a Premarital Agreement may help ease the tension.

  • Reassure Your Fiancee

Let them know that your intention is to protect his or her financial independence, as well as your own financial independence.

  • Keep Your Cool

Do not get angry. Your fiancee may not want to hear you but it is important to remain calm. He/she may feel hurt and insulted you “could even think of a divorce.” Your fiancee will eventually calm down.

  • Try Again

Do not give up if the first conversation did not go well. It is important that your wishes are respected in your relationship too. Allow your fiancee to cool-off and reevaluate your points to discuss at a later date.

If you have significant assets, a Premarital Agreement is a smart choice before entering into marriage. Contact Diacos Law today. We can help draft a plan that is compliant with the California Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.

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