Many engaged couples are interested in exploring a premarital agreement. Oftentimes, the couple may not even be aware of what a premarital agreement is or what potential protection it offers. An important first step can be a joint meeting of the couple with a neutral professional who can inform them of the issues and options available as they form their financial and legal relationship.
Of course, without a written premarital agreement, the couple still will form a legal and financial relationship but the terms will be dictated by the law of California. An important piece of information is knowing what the “agreement” would be under California law. Again, a conversation with a neutral professional can save fees and be very helpful. Even if the parties’ intentions are consistent with the law of California, it still may be prudent to have a written agreement for a variety of reasons including that the law changes from time to time.
If the couple decides that they would like to discuss a premarital agreement, the mediator can work with them in a non-adversarial manner to talk through the concerns and different ways to address them. Once the parties have reached an agreement in concept, the mediator will draft the agreement for each party to review with their attorneys.
It is critical for premarital and postmarital agreements that each party be independently represented by counsel in order for the agreement to be enforceable. It is also important for there to be full disclosure of the financial circumstances of each person to the other. Working with a mediator can help keep the focus on a constructive approach to meeting the needs of both parties rather than engaging in an adversarial process.
Ultimately, marriage is one of the most significant legal and financial relationships of a lifetime and it is helpful to know the terms of your agreement whether by agreement or by law, and to discuss each of your concerns prior to the marriage.