by Suanne I. Honey
Attorney at Law, CFLS, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney
Sorry for the silly pun when this is such a serious topic. Seriously, though, pre-nuptial agreements are hot topics which give rise to many emotions.
“It paints the Devil on the wall.”
“It is anticipating failure of the marriage.”
“If he or she really loved me, this would not be necessary.”
“I am uncomfortable talking about finances.”
The list can go on and on. Sometimes emotions are an unnecessary waste of energy. Other times emotions have some benefits, even negative emotions. For example, fear in a dark alley in a dangerous neighborhood will cause you to be zealously vigilant about your surroundings which will lead you into taking appropriate steps for your safety … much like the pre-nuptial agreement itself.
Unfortunately, statistics today are not favorable for a lasting marriage. If and when there is a decision to get divorced, the person you once loved turns into the enemy. There is often a total lack of trust at the time of a divorce. There are fights over money, property, and other issues creating stress for both partners. This stress almost always filters down to the children.
Collaborative Law is a process where couples work with a team of expert professionals.
The mental-health professionals work individually with each partner to a marriage (or a potential marriage). They help curb their emotions and phrase their individual needs and wants in a positive, cooperative and logical way, allowing those needs and wants to really be heard and understood by the other partner.
The financial professional will be able to identify and sort out the financial and property issues of concern to the couple in a transparent and logical way.
The Collborative Practice attorneys will help guide their clients through the legal quagmire. This can all be done in a much less stressful, more cooperative way in the collaborative arena.
While important, none of that is the real reason that Collaborative pre-nups make the most “cents.”
The biggest reason for marriages to fail is the breakdown in communication. Having gone through a divorce in the Collaborative law process, many (if not most) participants say if they’d gone through this process before the marriage, the divorce would be much less likely.
So it makes “cents” to have your pre-nuptial agreement created in the Collaborative setting. Because of the communication skills learned by the couple during the process, it may help avoid a future divorce altogether. This saves a great deal of “cents” paid to attorneys and litigation, or future Collaborative Divorce costs.
Even if the unthinkable happens and there is a future divorce, you will come out ahead. Having learned how to conduct difficult conversations in a way that allows your spouse to hear and understand your position, even discussing issues in the divorce process that were not part of the original prenup will save many “cents.”
Most importantly, the stress level exposed to any children during your divorce will be significantly reduced. This is an outcome which is “priceless.”