Prenuptial agreements are no longer reserved for the very wealthy. They are tools that all types of couples choose to have in place to protect themselves and their assets. However, these documents can only be effective if they are prepared properly and enforceable.
A prenuptial agreement is just like any other legal contract in that signing one is not something you should take lightly. It can and will have a very real impact on your future, and it can be crucial that you take certain precautions before signing one so that you don’t wind up with an unfair or unenforceable agreement.
- Read it carefully: Signing a document without reading it can be a very big mistake. You may wind up agreeing to things you don’t like or fail to realize what you could be giving up. Further, a party’s failure to read a prenup can be grounds for invalidating the entire agreement.
- Ask questions: Raising concerns and asking for clarification if you do not understand certain terms or clauses in a prenup can be the difference between giving up and getting what you want. Asking questions can also be an indication that a person has read the document and it can prevent an unconscionable contract, or one that is unreasonably unfair.
- Negotiate terms: If your partner asks you to sign a prenup, you have the right to make changes and ask for compromises. It is not a “take it or leave it” type of situation.
Each of these steps will be crucial in securing a prenuptial agreement that protects and reflects the interests of both parties. The two of you should consider using mediation or the collaborative practice model to reach discuss the terms of a prenuptial agreement. Using an interest based approach is much more beneficial and will bode well for the success of the marriage.
Before you sign any contract, it is very important that each of you have your own independent attorney. In California, failure to have an attorney if your agreement discusses spousal support is a basis to invalidate the entire agreement. The attorney who can reviews the document will help you understand it and address issues that could make it unacceptable or unenforceable. Failure to do this could have serious consequences if and when you divorce.