Talking About Prenups

About Prenuptial Agreements

When couples start throwing around those dreaded words “prenuptial agreement” (a.k.a. prenup, prenupt, premarital agreement) the inescapable thought is, “Uh-oh, are we planning on getting a divorce?” Most people get this feeling that bringing up a prenuptial agreement is bad luck or amounts to dooming your marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. A sound business decision and a sound personal decision don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

It’s important to remember that a prenup doesn’t start with drafting papers in a lawyers office. It starts with a discussion. Who better to facilitate such a discussion than a qualified Family Mediator? No need to go to an expensive divorce lawyer who is out to take one side. A Premarital Agreement is a two-sided discussion, one best made when all parties are present and speaking openly about their finances and their feelings. Remember, a Mediator is there to facilitate discussion. Having someone to listen who can also give advice is better than going into battle with high-priced divorce attorneys.

This is your relationship. Wouldn’t you rather have it start out with an open, frank discussion? One that can set the tone and ensure that both parties will look at divorce as a distant and unlikely scenario?

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In any mediation session, I like to relate to the parties as friends. “If I were you, I’d…” Nothing binding, just friendly advice. The idea again is communication.

What I usually tell folks is: Marriages are difficult undertakings. Sharing yourself with your loved one not only involves physical and emotional love, but there’s also a business angle. Having that money discussion can be devastatingly difficult, but don’t let it shake you. You’ll need to have much harder conversations in the future, if you are to have a successful relationship. From my experience, having these conversations brings people closer.

I’ve been a divorce lawyer in Los Angeles, California for over twenty years. In that time I’ve seen and heard just about everything. I am well-versed in the causes of failed marriages. To me, there is a pattern that is common to many divorces.

So what is this common thread? As a divorce attorney in Los Angeles, I get this question a lot. I should start by saying that divorce rarely occurs after an isolated incident, but after a systematic erosion. Just like the causes of any addiction or affair aren’t usually out of the blue, divorce signals a deeper problem.

However, when we start talking about certain events that can trigger a divorce (the last straw effect), there is a common bond. In these cases, the couple has undergone a serious life change and are in a re-evaluation process. Deaths in the family, sickness, car accidents: these are all events that can trigger a life re-evaluation where a divorce is seen as necessary by one or both parties.

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If your parents die, or if your child gets sick, the toll can wreak havoc and cause people to have serious doubts about their marriage. But these are all too common events in our lives. And in order to have a healthy relationship, as adults we need to be able to talk about them. Unfortunately, with the high divorce rate, we know that this can be extremely difficult, but the point is, if we can’t have a simple discussion about money, how can we expect to be able to deal with these much more difficult conversations?

Couples get into trouble when they start avoiding difficult discussions like these. Particularly ones that revolve around money and property they owned or inherited before vows were exchanged.

Too often I see people in our Family Mediation Practice who are getting a divorce and the problem was communication. They were unable to have these frank discussions. By not talking about your finances at the outset of a marriage, you are embarking on a slippery slope. Talking about it is the first step and by doing so, years from now you won’t have regrets, saying “I thought we agreed” on this or that. Get it out in the open. It’s great practice for a successful, lasting marriage.

Even if you don’t decide to put anything on paper, the discussion is still necessary. And we’re here to help. Look on our site for more info about Premarital Mediation.

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