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Prenups for Lovers

hands holding hearts

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
www.thelawcollaborative.com
www.facebook.com/thelawcollaborative
www.twitter.com/TLC_Law

Marriage Insurance

Ty Supancic

Most people understand the reason for insurance. We spend huge chunks of income each year on life, fire, and medical insurance, and newer types of insurance such as long term care. Consider viewing a Prenuptial (or Premarital) Agreement in the same way, as a kind of insurance policy. Why?

Parties facing divorce who have such agreements in place and abide by them, have helped to insure themselves against conflict, sky-high legal bills, and dissipation of valuable assets.

Who might need a Prenuptial Agreement (PNA)? Interestingly, it is not just people with large incomes or those who own several properties. If either of the parties about to be married have been married before, or if either of the parties have children by other relationships, a PNA is a necessity. If one of the parties owns a home, business, or a financial portfolio – in other words, if that person’s monetary resources considerably outweigh those of the other, a PNA is essential.

Once a couple has decided that they would like to make their relationship permanent, a discussion of finances becomes crucial. This is often difficult. Money is usually a sensitive issue in relationships and many times partners have divergent views.

Clear understanding and agreement should be reached on the management and disposition of all real estate, income streams, deferred benefits, and all other assets whether separate or community.

There are several key points to keep in mind. First of all, the agreement must be deliberately conceived and completely voluntary. Full disclosure of all assets and debits is required. It must be drawn up to give each party adequate time to carefully review. It is important that the agreement be just and fair-minded in order to insure that it will not be overturned in a legal challenge. To be safe, it is a good idea to video record the execution ceremony as evidence that it was signed voluntarily by competent parties.

At The Law Collaborative we help mediate, negotiate, and review Prenuptial Agreements and Post-Nuptial Agreements. Call us for more information or visit the relationship planning section of our website.

And don’t forget! Our Second Saturday Family Law & Divorce Workshop is coming up on Saturday, May 13 from 10AM to 12PM. To RSVP, call (818)348-6700.

Best wishes,

Ty Supancic, Esq.

The Law Collaborative, APC

5955 De Soto Avenue, Suite 125

Woodland Hills, CA 91367

T: (818)348-6700

F: (818)348-0961

info@thelawcollaborative.com

www.thelawcollaborative.com

“Like” us on Facebook.com/thelawcollaborative

Follow us on Twitter.com/TLC_Law

A Dirty Word Or A Saving Grace?

PREMARITAL INSURANCE
By Ty Supancic, Esquire

I regularly help couples design and build foundations for the most important project in their lives. The work is long and involved and at times unpleasant, but I believe the results are worth it in the long run. We take the time to examine and investigate their dreams and circumstances, and using that information, we design and create a strong foundation together which will support whatever they chose to build on it. If what they build together fails sometime in the future, it will not be for lack of planning.

No, I’m not a contractor or an architect. I’m a family law attorney and the “foundation” I’m describing is a mediated premarital agreement.

“Premarital Agreement” and “Pre-Nup” are dirty words in the common vernacular, but I believe this is due to misunderstandings based on Hollywood propaganda and sensationalistic news coverage. Premarital agreements need not be unilateral documents forced by one spouse upon another. The alternative to the Hollywood stereotype, and the vast majority of the premarital agreements we draft in our office, is a premarital agreement reached by mutual discussions and assent to terms designed to support marriage and discourage divorce.

At the most basic level, people get divorced because they’re “unhappy.” Unfortunately, statistics tell us that divorce does not bring happiness. Studies reveal that most people are just as unhappy after their divorce as they were before it. But in addition to being “unhappy”, after divorce they’re also damaged; emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

Despite this reality, people get divorced anyway. Why? I believe people are “playing the odds” or gambling on a different future. People know what they have, and they think they’re unhappy. They don’t know what things will be like after their divorce, but they figure, “it can’t get any worse.” They’re wrong. They’re trading known circumstances for unknown circumstances on the misguided premise that things will be better. They seldom are. Remember the old Irish adage, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

Read more…

Preventing Divorce

In this video, Ron Supancic, Certified Family Law Specialist and collaborative divorce lawyer, talks about how couples can prevent divorce before they get married.

The Law Collaborative – The Changing Face of Divorce from The Law Collaborative on Vimeo.

A Serious Girl on Premarital Agreements

Originally posted on ASeriousGirl.com

PREFACE TO A PRENUP

Last week I mentioned how Mike and I have periodic romance-infused financial meetings, but I didn’t go into the how’s or why’s. We had our first financial meeting within a few weeks of getting engaged because we had to if were going to write a prenup.

The last time I told someone that Mike and I have a prenup, I promised myself I wouldn’t tell anyone ever again. But I’ve been thinking about it lately, especially after last week’s financial post, and the fact is that a prenup isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Our prenup is the reason we were debt-free less than a year after we married. Our prenup is the reason we have never had an argument about money. Our prenup is the reason I got to move with my husband to New York and live out one of my wildest fantasies. The last time I told someone we wrote a prenup that person grimaced as she said, “Why would you do that? Why would you marry someone you’re just going to divorce?”
“What?”
“Obviously if you need a prenup it’s because you know you’re just going to divorce the person.”
“What? No, it’s not. I don’t –”
“That’s awful, Tricia. That’s just awful. I’m really surprised.”

She was actually that appalled, I do not exaggerate. And she’s not alone in her feelings. Enough people have had that reaction that when she had it, I decided our prenup was something people just didn’t need to know about.

Except now I’m telling the entire Webisphere.

I’m working on learning how to stand up for myself. Today I’d like to announce that my husband and I wrote a prenup before we got married and contrary to what you might think it was not because we were rich or because we were planning on getting divorced. We had a lot of debt and our only assets were each other, but we sat down and we worked out the complications of our finances and in doing so, he learned how important it was for me to have the opportunity to run with my dreams. I learned how important it was for him to save money so that one day he could have an old sprawling house to fix up and build furniture for, with a treehouse in back for the grandkids and five big-headed dogs. And when I learned that, I knew I really did want to spend the rest of my life with this man, because no matter what happened between here and now, we had the same life goals.

Writing a prenup was a way to protect ourselves from divorce. Everyone has different feelings about money and no two people feel exactly the same way. Money is a tender, delicate thing that dances with pride and envy. It can be used to hurt just as easily as it can be used to help. A brilliant family lawyer once told me that money is the last thing couples talk about and the first thing they fight about. I was determined not to have a marriage that could be damaged because we never talked about money. You can’t write a prenup without talking about money, and so we used it as an opportunity to have a very honest and very real discussion that would go on to help us shape our lives. And it’s true, we could’ve just had the conversation without ever writing the contract, but the fun in writing the contract was including provisions like:

“Prior to filing for divorce, the parties must agree to a minimum of one hour of marriage counseling, once every week for twenty-four consecutive weeks. If, after twenty-four consecutive weeks of marriage counseling the parties still agree to divorce, either party may file the Petition without effect. If one party files for dissolution without completing the agreed upon counseling, that party agrees to pay the other party’s attorney fees and costs in full.”  (Except a lot fancier because it was translated into lawyer-speak.)

I really do believe that if both parties commit to marriage counseling for six months they won’t need a divorce. And if they really still want one, then maybe they do need it. However, if one person isn’t even willing to give counseling a shot, then they should pay the damn legal fees.