Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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How mediation can empower a couple making a prenuptial agreement

You’ve met the love of your life and have decided to tie the knot. You’re deliriously happy. Everything in your life seems right on track. But then your fiancé hits you with an upsetting surprise: they want you to sign a prenup.

A prenuptial agreement is a touchy subject for many engaged couples, often because the request for such an agreement only comes from one party—the wealthier one. In many cases, a fiancé stemming from a wealthy family may receive parental pressure for such a contract to ensure their assets remain within the family.

In any case, a prenuptial agreement can carry negative connotations about the individual being requested to sign it—such as mistrust about the longevity of the relationship or suspicion of ulterior, gold-digging motivations in the marriage. Therefore, broaching the subject of a prenup can be a harsh blow to an enamored fiancé—and it can have a damaging impact on the couple’s relationship.

An effective way to soften the blow and make a prenup more palatable to both parties is to approach it through mediation. With mediation, members of the couple can collaborate and agree on the terms of a prenup themselves—rather than putting that control in the hands of their lawyers. In fact, it’s the couple—not their lawyers—who develops the first draft of the prenup together.

It’s the mediator’s job to understand the complete financial landscape of both members of the couple—and to make sure each member of the couple fully discloses their financial situation to the other. This includes income, assets, inheritance, debt and liabilities. When each member of the couple understands the other’s complete financial situation, it can help the marriage to gain solid footing from the start. It can also provide an opportunity for the couple to get on the same page about financial management and planning—which is a common source of stress in a marriage.

The mediator will also get to understand the histories of each member of the couple, from prior marriages to children to previous—possibly negative—experiences with prenups. The goal is to understand any pertinent issues surrounding the prenup as well as concerns each member of the couple may have coming into the marriage. Addressing these concerns in an open, safe environment can actually strengthen a couple’s relationship and avoid issues down the road.

While a prenuptial agreement may seem like a bad word, when approached collaboratively through mediation, it can actually be a highly effective tool to establish a framework for a solid, long-lasting marriage.

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