Do I need a lawyer to draft my prenuptial agreement?
Do I need a lawyer to review a prenuptial agreement presented to me by my fiancee?
If you want to end up with a clear and binding prenuptial agreement (also called a premarital agreement or "prenup"), you should get help from a good family law attorney. In fact, you will need two lawyers -- one for each of you. Before your lawyers start drafting the prenuptial agreement, you and your fiancee should decide on the essentail terms of the agreement and what it is that you want to accomplish be entering into a prenuptial agreement.
The laws governing marriage contracts vary tremendously from state to state. Simply stated, a prenuptial agreement is a contract. If you don't want to invest your time learning the ins and outs of California's community property laws, a lawyer who knows the intricacies of those laws will be an important resource. The family law lawyer can help you put together a prenuptial agreement that meets California legal requirements and says what you want it to say.
Not just one lawyer; but two?
Prenuptial agreements are still scrutinized by the courts; somtimes very closely. If you want your prenuptial agreement to pass muster, having independent lawyers advising each of you can be critical. Neither the courts nor the law requires that each party to a prenuptial agreement have a family law lawyer. The absence of separate independent legal advice for each party however, is often a red flag to a judge if the validity of your prenuptial agreement is challenged.
Practically speaking, having separate legal counsel can help you and your fiancee create a lasting prenuptial agreement that you both will understand and that does not leave either of you feeling that you have been taken advantage of.
Decide what you want before consulting with a lawyer
You and your fiancee should get together and settle on the essential terms of your prenuptial agreement. Put those terms in writing (maybe in an outline or a list of points) before you sit down with your family law lawyer.
Do I need my own family law attorney if my fiancee's family law attorney prepared the prenuptial agreement?
Yes, you do. It is important to have your own counsel explain fully the proposed prenuptial agreement and the potential pitfalls that could affect you in the event of a divorce. Your family law attorney can suggest changes to the proposed prenuptial agreement that can dramatically benefit you and affect what happens in the event of a divorce.
Does my fiancee need their own lawyer if my family law attorney prepares the prenuptial agreement?
Not only does it make it more fair (each side has independent advice), it also makes it more enforceable since neither can later argue that they did not understand what they were signing.
At the Law Offices of Tobie B. Waxman, I charge one low flat fee whether I am creating the prenuptial agreement or reviewing a prenuptial agreement prepared by your fiancee or fiancee's attorney. There are no hidden costs or fees. The flat fee is paid up front, with no subsequent billing for my time regardless of how long it takes to come up with a prenuptial agreement that is acceptable to both parties.