Tips about Prenuptial Agreements
Are prenuptial agreements legally binding?
Sadly there are challenging hurdles to create a binding agreement and those expecting a cheap or standardised process may generate an agreement that will actually make things worse.
So how do you do it well?
Start early. In theory if you have a decent period of time before the wedding (roughly 21 or 28 days) the agreement should not be struck down. The process takes time, so why leave it so late?
Be kind to yourselves. Ideally work out broadly what makes sense to you both in advance. If one of you presents a tough agreement a month before the wedding it is unlikely to be the best start to a lifelong relationship.
You may want to find (eg. through your lawyers) an appropriate counsellor or mediator to help you work out what you both think is fair.
Find lawyers who know what they are doing (you will each need a lawyer if you are trying to create a prenuptial agreement that is legally binding).
Find out from your lawyers at the start whether you actually need a prenup (if the law would do what you currently regard as fair then what are the benefits – save yourself the expense of preparing for something that you expect will never happen) and whether what you want to do is going to be accepted by the courts (as a legally binding prenup) anyway.
Establish whether the agreement can be drawn up for a budget you can afford. You will need to settle the legal bills before the agreement is finalised and you won’t be given a quote until the lawyers know what you are trying to do, (because that decides the time that is needed to get it right for you).
Ideally find lawyers you find easy to talk to and who understand what you are trying to achieve.
Keep it simple – and make sure your lawyers understand this too. It is easy to get carried away trying to cover every possible scenario in minute detail - which is a quick way to failing to get anything completed at all at vast expense.
Don’t overlook tax and financial planning and ideally get wills and life insurance in place at the same time.
Remember when it is done and you are married that it exists and make your financial decisions with this in mind during the marriage.
Recognise the limitations of these agreements. It is impossible to try to work out an outcome for every stage of the marriage. Consider, for example, providing for the agreement to expire after five years of marriage or if you have children.