What’s in a pre-nuptial agreement? What’s the purpose of it? Is it all about expectation of failure, or does it deal with more positive issues and can it feel good, not bad, to negotiate all the terms and make your decisions together? See the checklist in my book, “Just in Case! Lose your heart, not your mind” for the essential elements of a pre-nuptial agreement.
A few thoughts on the subject: Give yourself time. I cannot stress this enough. Ideally, you should give yourself 6 months. You should be very conscious of your sense of self and self-protective instincts when you’re working out the details of the agreement. Avoid the pitfall of “over-willingness” – being anxious to sign anything and everything that your partner asks, to “prove” that you’re all about love, not money. And don’t let yourself be shamed or intimidated into leaving out provisions that you know are important, out of a fear of seeming too concerned with money or rights to property down the line. It’s all about fairness, and there’s no fairness if one party’s interests are favored over the other. Know your worth, keep a level head, be practical and truthful, and employ the services of a trusted family law professional to keep the process productive and even-handed.
Find a decent lawyer. Look for one who has negotiated many pre-nuptial agreements and will make sure that yours covers all the bases, complies with all laws, and will stand up to the test of time. Also, an experienced attorney will know what you should fight over and what is unreasonable. Whomever you find, be sure to check that lawyer’s background and look him/her up on websites that rate law firms and lawyers and provide client testimonials.
I don’t discount for a minute the difficulty of bringing the subject of these agreements up with your partner in the first place. You might need to get help with just that, to start with. Pre-marital counseling would be a good place to broach the subject or with a trusted and wise friend or family member who can you can consult about not just the need for a pre-nuptial agreement but the best way to bring the subject up with your partner. Think about the initiation of the process very carefully, and lay the groundwork with thought and care before you start.