Sunday, February 28, 2010

Collaborative Prenuptial Agreements

Our good friend Sam Hasler from Indiana has a brief post in his blog today about using Collaborative Law as the process for creating a prenuptial agreement. His blog, "Sam Hasler's Indiana Divorce & Family Law Blog" is always a source for new ideas and good approaches for dealing important family issues. Here's what he wrote about prenuptial agreements and Collaborative Law:

Family Law Week comes Collaborative prenuptial agreements find favour
"According to The Law Society’s Gazette, a rising number of clients contemplating marriage are asking for prenuptial agreements to be prepared using the collaborative law model. The report records a shift in attitude among clients who would prefer to adopt a more consensual approach to agreeing a pre-nuptial agreement rather than employ the more traditional, oppositional method of negotiation."

I have previously written about using Collaborative Law for prenuptial agreements for professional athletes and using it generally for prenuptials for anyone. Prenups are very often put off until the last minute before a wedding, which makes the process much more stressful and difficult. Sometimes weddings are cancelled or postponed because of intense negotiations that aren't resolved satisfactorily.

Here's why you should use Collaborative Law for prenuptial agreements:

1. The process fits the need. I am a strong advocate of using the Collaborative process for prenuptial agreements. Working out a prenuptial is almost like doing a divorce in advance. There must be a lot of disclosure, planning and problem solving. The parties need to be able to look into the future and make binding, very important decisions about their lives and financial well-being.

2. The (Texas) process utilizes a mental health professional. The negotiations often bring out the worst in people, if the issues aren't handled well. With Collaborative Law, we normally bring in a mental health professional to assist the parties to communicate effectively and deal with the stress, and that would be essential in this type of negotiation.

3. The (Texas) process utilizes a financial advisor for both parties. We also bring in a neutral financial advisor who can help each party understand the financial consequences of the terms under consideration. The financial advisor also helps evaluate the tax effects of various options. Another helpful element is having someone who can assist both parties with budgeting and projecting their needs and capabilities in the future.

4. There is greater assurance of transparency and the sharing of all relevant information. That is a fundamental element of Collaborative Law, so there would clearly be an emphasis on providing the needed information and openly discussing matters.

Using all the Collaborative professionals to prepare a prenuptial agreement will benefit everyone involved and help avoid the disasters of a failed agreement or an uninformed agreement. The Collaborative process would require that the parties start well before the wedding date, instead of waiting until the week of the wedding, which is what sometimes happens now. It should result in a better agreement, everyone feeling better about the process and a happier wedding.