Whenever you have separate property prior to marriage, or children and an estate from a previous marriage, it is wise to sign a premarital agreement. When you are about to be married, you are in love, and you don’t want to think about divorce. But the truth is you do need to protect your separate property if you were to die or divorce and wish to make sure your children from a previous marriage are protected. Also, if you end the marriage, you will avoid fights about what is yours and what belongs to your spouse. The happiest and most positive way to enter a marriage is through honest, open, transparent, clear, loving expectations and good communication.
If you use an attorney-mediator to write your premarital agreement, you will be meeting together with a neutral with whom you can share your desires, concerns, and proposals for the agreement and be apprised of the law and your rights. It is wise to visit your financial advisor or CPA and make sure you have a complete list of your property and financial concerns. You will be asked to bring a list of your assets and debts and your trust or will documents (or be advised to consider your estate with an estate planning advisor) so that you will address all the critical issues. In mediation you will engage in a private, confidential, process to discuss all your concerns without an adversarial approach. Once your mediator prepares a draft of your agreement, you will have the opportunity to review it with independent counsel to make sure that you have gotten an independent opinion before you sign. Falling in love in a euphoric experience, so why should you taint that loving feeling with an adversarial approach? Mediating your premarital is a process of creating solutions to concerns in a positive, respectful and trusting environment.
Mari Frank is a divorce attorney-mediator in Laguna Niguel, CA (Orange County). She has been featured on numerous national television shows including 48 Hours, Dateline, NBC Nightly News, and The O’Reilly Factor and in newspapers across the nation including the L.A. Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.