With the excitement for your upcoming wedding, it’s a very difficult thing to bring up the subject of creating a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse. It can certainly feel like a splash of cold water over the romance of the event if you’re planning out how to end the marriage before it’s even started.
While it may be uncomfortable to bring the subject up, prenuptial agreements can help a couple make their own decisions regarding settlements and asset divisions rather than be subject to the arbitrary decisions of a judge if their relationship does come to an end. This freedom to choose their own way can reduce the risk of a divorce resulting in deeply held resentment and spite, yet many couples still find even discussing a prenuptial agreement to be an unwelcome reminder of the possibility that their relationship may someday end.
It doesn’t help matters that prenuptial agreements are seen by most as being a convenient escape route for more financially secure partners to jump ship and leave their partners high and dry. This preconception is not without merit – many prenuptial agreements drawn up by the lawyer of the initiating party are highly restrictive, limiting the post-divorce asset division essentially to the whims of that party and their legal representative.
Needless to say, this process can not only sour the festive atmosphere but can also take a heavy toll on the relationship as a whole. If one partner walks away from the negotiations feeling like they’ve just been taken advantage of or as if their significant other is already planning for a life without them, the emotional wound can begin to fester and start eating away at what would otherwise be a healthy and happy relationship.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Much like divorce itself, the prenuptial agreement can be a collaborative effort, rather than one fought over by lawyers, through the process of mediation.
A mediated prenuptial agreement uses a neutral third party – the mediator – to guide the couple as they form an agreement that they can both be satisfied with. The mediator acts as a representative for the interests of both parties, ensuring that the decisions made during the process are equitable, that each partner understands why the other is requesting certain things be included, that each partner is fully informed of the implications of those decisions, and how it may affect each of them if the relationship comes to an end.
This has a number of positive effects both legally and emotionally. Since the partners are both heavily involved in the creation of the prenuptial agreement, the possibility of the agreement being rejected by the courts during the divorce process becomes much smaller.
The collaborative process of a mediated prenuptial agreement can provide the couple with a foundation of negotiation and communication skills that will help them settle into their newfound roles as partners in their new marriage contract. It further provides all the benefits that come with a prenuptial agreement without the possibility of hurt feelings, distrust, or resentment springing from the sense of being exploited or taken advantage of.
The collaborative agreement also helps dispel any insecurity each party may have as to what will happen in the event of a divorce. The more financially secure party can rest easy knowing that the separation will not cost them everything, while the less secure party will not have to feel the need to fight tooth and nail to ensure they won’t be left without anything despite their contributions and sacrifices.
In short, despite the hesitation couples may feel towards discussing what should be done in the event of their relationship coming to an end, working together to create that plan may in fact help strengthen the relationship and lead to a more secure, healthy marriage!