As part of my law practice, I work with clients in drafting and executing prenuptial agreements prior to marriage. This is something I am particularly passionate about, largely due to what I have witnessed and experienced through the divorces of my parents, friends and family members, and my professional experience in helping clients with the death of a spouse. I have written and advised on the many benefits of prenuptial agreements – not only in terms of protection of assets, but also in terms of strengthening the current relationship as the couple work through the process. I recently had the opportunity to sit in the client’s seat in getting a prenuptial agreement, and what I learned while in that seat I believe is worth sharing.
As some of you may have noticed, I have not had a new blog post for a few months. The reason being that I was consumed not only be my law practice and legal nonprofit, but also by planning and preparing for my wedding which took place on March 4, 2017! As part of that planning, and in following the very advice I give to many of my clients, my now husband, Curt, and I signed a prenuptial agreement.
Like many things in life, my understanding and appreciation for the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement was heightened by actually going through the process personally. From an attorney’s perspective, I intellectually understood the benefits, and had witnessed the positive relationship impact through others. From a client’s perspective, I was able to experience it all firsthand and I must admit – I was surprised by how positive of an impact it had.
First, we had an experience while working on the prenuptial agreement that I did not expect. There were a couple of decisions to be made that we were both kind of stuck in our own corner on. Unlike the process leading up to this, which we breezed through with ease, neither of us could come up with a middle ground option. After further discussions, and with help from our attorneys, we identified what the issue was – it was our fears! Fears that did not even pertain to our relationship specifically, but just to relationships and commitment in general. Not only did identifying those underlying fears almost instantly lead to resolution in the specific prenuptial decision, but it has had a substantial positive impact on our relationship. In my opinion (an opinion shared by my husband), this discovery alone was worth the investment of the prenuptial agreement.
Second, was the sharing of ALL financial information. Curt and I had been very open about our finances, having lived and shared costs jointly for couple of years leading up to the marriage, and having purchased a home together prior to marriage. However, actually sitting down with a print out of every account, investment, and debt typed out on paper with the valuations listed felt incredibly open, honest and vulnerable. Because we married in our late 20’s, we had individually grown our own retirement accounts and had pre-marital property and business interest. Not only were we able to learn what each of us had individually, but it gave us an accurate sense of what our finances were going to look like as we proceeded forward jointly. This was an exercise I can honestly say we would not have done if we weren’t (frankly) required to by the prenuptial process.
Third, we were required to talk about things we wouldn’t normally, simply due to the fact it is not where we are at in our lives now. We discussed the possibility of growing our family, purchasing additional/future properties, expanding or acquiring new business interests, and making large purchases – whether it be individually or jointly. This process made us aware that we were truly going to be a team going forward – and it added to the excitement I was feeling for our wedding day! I felt fortunate to have talked through some of the logistics of these topics prior to the marriage, rather than in the manner we had when dreaming about our future together. I felt we were able to preventatively address potential situations with intention, and had time to reflect and ponder.
Last, we had fun going through this process. Despite my background and experience with prenuptial agreements, I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive when we started working on this. After all, I knew Curt supported and agreed with the decision to sign a prenuptial prior to marriage, but I had no idea how each of us would handle or react to some of the conversations to be had. Thankfully, we had a very positive experience working through the prenuptial agreement. We learned a lot about each other. We were understanding, patient, considerate and agreeable. We felt like the other truly had our best interest at mind – after all, prenuptial agreements are generally about ensuring that in the unfortunate event there is a divorce or death, that things are fair and equitable.
It is not often that I am able to write about legal topics from the perspective of the client. In the rare instance that I am able to have this experience, I am always grateful for it because of the things I learn that not only help me as an attorney, but because I can share the experience from a different perspective with others. I gained a new understanding of, and appreciation for, prenuptial agreements – and truly feel like it helped Curt and I start our new marriage on a solid, supportive foundation.
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.