January 19, 2023
By: Kathy Campbell
Are You Getting Married?
Is marriage strengthening on your to-do list? It should be! Being married for 28 years while practicing family law in the Bay Area for 20 years has taught me a lot about marriage. I know that no amount of premarital counseling covers the bulk of marital conflicts including those that sometimes result in divorce. However, a well-executed prenuptial agreement process improves your marriage before it even starts. A good process includes Guided conversations that go broader and deeper in common areas of conflict before couples marry. Those deep, guided conversations form a foundational agreement finely tailored to your joint needs and desires. They also create a shared awareness about your individual perspectives on the most important issues. The pre-nuptial process helps couples face and reach agreements about complex issues before they marry preventing common conflicts from ever becoming big conflicts once they marry.
Wedding planning is a wonderful and exciting time and the best time to talk about difficult issues because positive emotions outweigh the negative ones. Many people take for granted the many common events that happen in families. And yet those events, if mishandled, can negatively impact your financial future. Think about buying your first home. If you buy a house, how should you take title? What are your choices and the significance of each? What about the loan application? Does it matter if your name is not on the loan application? What if you have bad or no credit? What is community property? If you do not understand these terms or their significance, you may short-change yourself on one of the biggest assets you will ever own.
You probably talked with your spouse about having kids; maybe even which of you will stay home with the kids and for how long? But did you talk about what happens to your respective retirement plans during that period? What about your careers? Does your spouse expect you to go back to work at a specific time? Do you? We can plan around these and many other events to ensure the needs of both spouses are met and protected.
What if you inherit money? What if you put that in a joint bank account? Is it yours? Does the joint account matter? Does your spouse get any of it? What if your spouse wrecks the car and you buy a new car with your inheritance. Is that a joint asset? Does a bow on the car at Christmas change anything? What if you put your inheritance in the bank account of your spouse-to-be? Does that matter?
There are so many topics that most couples never discuss before marriage because they don’t know what they don’t know. That is why a prenuptial agreement strengthens your marriage. I guide prenuptial discussions using my 20 years of family law experience resolving conflicts in divorce. Clients gain a shared awareness and agreement about the most common conflicts in marriage including ones that might be more likely for you. We can even design a decision-making protocol so that you both are assured that the information most important to both of you is carefully considered.
I work with couples in many different formats including the unique collaborative process that provides each spouse an experienced family law attorney specifically trained to focus on and protect both the needs of both their client and the couple. This collaboration makes your agreements even stronger because the agreement comes from a thorough, yet refined process grounded in a cooperative rather than adversarial approach. It is designed to build a stronger marriage from the very beginning.
Strengthening your marriage from the beginning should be the item at the top of your wedding planning list. And you should do it together several months before your planned wedding date. Please contact Kathy at campbellfamilylaw.com to set up an appointment to learn more about how to strengthen your marriage with a prenuptial agreement.