The Mediated Prenuptial Agreement: A “Love Document?”

Many people say a prenuptial agreement is an “anti-love” document; it’s “not romantic.”   This may be true.  Just Google the words “romantic” and “love” and you will find out that neither of these words alone defines a healthy, good or successful marriage.  Now Google what makes a healthy, happy and successful marriage.  You will find that while spouses may act romantic toward each other and love each other (which are admittedly important factors), these states of being are not enough to make a healthy marriage. There is much more involved, including building togetherness   ̶  a partnership.  This requires communication.

Communication Failure

In my more than twenty years of practicing family law, I can share with you that many, many marriages fail as a result of dishonesty about money and finances; or, because a pure lack of information and sharing about money results in feeling the marriage lacks unity.  And, while this has been my experience, the credit reporting agency, Experian, confirmed this in a recent survey which exposes the lack of information spouses share or know about each other’s financial picture:  http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/2016/04/29/newlyweds-and-credit-survey-results/

Open Discussion

It has always been my position that working together before marriage to openly discuss each other’s finances, including future expectations and values surrounding money, is a critical cornerstone to a healthy, happy and successful marriage.  I also have always believed that a marriage is a partnership similar to a business relationship in that two people are coming together to build a life   ̶  a family “organization.” Understanding how that will occur is critical and best documented because, as most of us know, memories fade. 

Therefore, why not have an open and honest discussion about money and then document the understanding before entering a marriage?  Most people would never think of entering into a business relationship without a partnership agreement.  This is no different in marriage, just because the partners love each other.

“Love Document”

So the question becomes, how does this happen?  A prenuptial agreement is the best way to document a marital partnership.  However, it is my strong belief that engaging in a process to arrive at an agreement, which includes a discussion about money, is crucial.  This is why I believe in the mediation of a prenuptial agreement; this is a process by which the couple discusses money and expectations about money in a neutral setting, and what they agree upon is then documented.  The real goal here is a “love document” – an agreement that is used as a tool during the marriage to guide the financial expectations of the spouses, which will hopefully avoid a divorce in the future. But if the couple ultimately does decide to end their marriage, a mediated prenuptial agreement is more likely to be enforceable and thus be used as the roadmap for a peaceful divorce.