As the excitement of the wedding day approaches and the happy couple is attending to all of the details of the approaching happy day, nothing can put the brakes on that growing momentum like one party announcing: “Sweetheart, I think we need to talk about a Pre-Nup.”
Certainly, the need for the Pre-Nuptial Agreement is obvious in many relationships, i.e., when one or both parties have substantial pre-marital assets, there are substantial business interests on one side of the marriage, a second or subsequent marriage is about to occur, and the like. While the need to protect these and other interests is logical and necessary, that does not necessarily mean that this statement will be met with a calm and reasoned response.
The response heard might be:
“You don’t trust me?”
“I thought you loved me?”
“I wouldn’t touch your (asset) if we got divorced.
“You think we are going to get divorced?”
These responses, among others, are often the response made to the person who suggests the need for the Pre-Nuptial Agreement. It often, at the least, puts a damper on the excitement and momentum leading up to the wedding day. If suggested in the last days leading up to the wedding day, it can sometimes be catastrophic.
With over Fifty Percent of marriages ending in divorce, why don’t the parties to an intended marriage face reality and plan for what might eventually occur? The reason is that parties let emotions cloud their rational judgment and the party who feels he or she needs the Agreement may be reluctant to raise the issue, until the wedding day approaches, out of fear of what the other party’s response might be. If one party to a marriage believes that a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is necessary, that need should be raised well before the wedding day.
Going into the marriage with the “it won’t happen to us” mentality is equivalent to the proverbial “putting your head in the sand”. The development of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement does not have to be a situation where one person prepares the document through a lawyer and it is presented to the other party, in what may feel like a “take if, or leave it” situation to the party receiving it. Rather, it can be looked at as developing a plan for the division of assets, liabilities and incomes in the event a divorce does occur. Simply put, it can be good planning in the right case.
Rather than fearing the process, the two parties can enter Mediation, with a skilled and trained Mediator and both can communicate their needs and desires. These needs can then be reduced to written document, signed and put away for safekeeping, giving both parties the opportunity to return to planning and enjoying their wedding day.
I often tell my Pre-Nuptial clients to negotiate the Agreement respectfully and carefully, arrive at a complete and thorough agreement, sign it and put it in a safe place. Then, I tell them, I hope you never need to look at it again. That will mean that you have enjoyed a long, loving and fulfilling married life.