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Prenups for Lovers

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In reflecting on the romance that surrounds Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of the starry eyed couples who tell me, “we don’t need a prenup, we’re not getting divorced.” Unfortunately, every marriage ends — hopefully after 75 years of wedded bliss, but every marriage ends eventually. Statistically, the odds are it will end earlier. But whether by death or divorce, when a marriage ends, a valid prenup determines what happens.

Thanks to Hollywood and sensationalistic news coverage, “premarital agreement” and “prenup” are dirty words in the common vernacular. In reality, premarital agreements need not be punitive documents forced on one spouse by another. The majority of premarital agreements we draft in our office are reached by mutual discussions and assent to terms designed to support marriage and discourage divorce.

Couples can opt out of the 2000 page California Family Code and write an agreement that embodies their hopes and values. A well written premarital agreement can proclaim a couples’ promises and devotion to each other. It can include “anti-divorce terms” such as agreements about mutual respect for personal appearance and physical fitness, or agreements about the frequency of romantic getaways. Basic agreements regarding values for raising children and spending quality time with the family can be discussed and included. Terms may also include mandatory marriage counseling and a “couple’s vacation” before filing for divorce, with consequences imposed for refusing to comply. Not all of these agreements may necessarily be enforceable in a court of law, but the simple act of discussing these issues and memorializing your agreements is useful when planning a relationship for the long-term.

Experts tell us that disagreements over finances are a leading cause of divorce. A failure to engage in deep and detailed conversations about money and mutual expectations can lead to conflict later. A well written premarital agreement addresses areas of potential conflict and serves as a form of “marriage insurance” by providing couples with a clear picture of what is expected of them during marriage and what things would be like after their marriage.

Of course, with legal consequences come myriad complex legal issues involving statutes and the case law governing such agreements. For that reason, it is critical that parties who wish to create such an insurance policy do so with the aid and oversight of a qualified attorney focused in this particular field and trained in consensual dispute resolution. While an attorney with a traditional practice might be fine for a unilateral, winner-take-all prenup, they often lack the expertise and subtlety required to mediate with couples in love who are not looking for a fight.

We help couples design and build foundations for the most important project in their lives. We take the time to examine and investigate their dreams and circumstances, and using that information, we design and create a strong foundation which will support whatever they choose to build on it. If what they build together fails sometime in the future, it will not be for lack of planning.

If you have questions about any of these ideas or issues, give us a call. We’re here to help.

On another note, our monthly Second Saturday Family Law and Divorce Workshop is coming up on Saturday, February 10 at 10AM. You can RSVP by calling (818) 348-6700.

Best wishes,
Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
Tel: (818) 348-6700
Fax: (818) 348-0961
Email: info@thelawcollaborative.com
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