FAQ’s

  • How do I bring up the topic to my fiancé?
  • Why have a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?
  • Who should have a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?
  • What if I don’t want to sign a premarital agreement?
  • Is Couples’ Counseling helpful?
  • How can I get a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?
  • What’s the difference between making a Premarital Agreement & mediation?
  • How much does a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement cost?
  • What topics should my premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement cover?
  • How can I be sure it’s a fair premarital agreement?
  • Will I need an attorney to review my premarital agreement?
  • Are premarital agreements or prenuptial agreements enforceable?
  • What are California’s laws concerning premarital or prenuptial agreements?
  • Can I change the terms of premarital or prenuptial agreements once signed?
  • Once I’ve signed a premarital or prenuptial agreement, can I get out of it?
  • Who keeps the premarital or prenuptial agreement once it’s signed?
  • What’s palimony? Am I risking income or assets living together unmarried?
  • How do I bring up the topic to my fiancé?
    Gently and well in advance of your planned wedding.

    We recommend you bring it up at least 3 months before your wedding.

    We would suggest that you be forthright, heartfelt and clear: “I would like to have a serious talk about how we will handle our finances during our marriage, and to talk about what our expectations would be in the event that our marriage did not work out. I think that our marriage has the best chance if we are honest with each other, and if we resolve important issues before they turn into disagreements. Money and finances come between lots of Couples , and many people ruin everything good between them in a divorce. I want to avoid that. Would you consider having this talk with me? I think a mediator can help us work through these issues together.”

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators can help you think about the way you will approach your fiancé about the idea of a Premarital Agreement

    Why have a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?
    What are the advantages of having a Premarital Agreement or Prenuptial Agreement?

    • Clear understanding of how you’ll handle finances before you get married.
    • Talk out tough issues in advance.
    • Protect your assets and income.
    • Protect your education, efforts and ideas.
    • Protect your new spouse from your debts and obligations.
    • Assure your new spouse and your children from a prior relationship that they’ll be protected if you get divorced or predecease them.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have the right information to make the right decisions and that you’ve covered all the bases before you sign your agreement.

    See also: 10 Tips on Why Prenuptial Agreement Mediation Works

    Who should have a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?
    Why would I want a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement if I’m not rich?

    Why would I want a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement if I am wealthy?

    Can a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement protect my children from my first marriage? Or my new spouse from my children from another relationship?

    What if I am the fiancé with less money? What’s in a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement for me?

    What if we just live together and don’t get married?

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    What if I don’t want to sign a premarital agreement?
    Ask yourself why you’re reluctant to consider a premarital agreement.

    If it’s because of the myth that premarital agreements are designed to only protect the wealthier spouse and strip the other spouse of all of his or her rights, understand that this is only a myth. Premarital agreements which are unfair and completely one-sided are probably not enforceable in court. Cal Fam Code Section 1615.

    If your reluctance is only based on myths about premarital agreements, we’d encourage you to at least discuss your fiancé’s request for a premarital agreement before simply refusing to talk. Listening to your fiancé’s request or concerns is not the same as agreeing to do whatever he or she asks. Start the dialogue.

    If you’re reluctant to consider a premarital agreement because you think your fiancé intends to be unfair to you, you’re concerned that your fiancé won’t marry you unless you do what he or she says without concern for your feelings, or you’re concerned about troubles in your relationship, pre-marital Couples’ Counseling may be helpful. You’ll want to put these fears and concerns to rest before you get married.

    Consider this quote from the Nolo Press book Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract

    “While a prenuptial agreement may not seem like a very romantic project, working together to consider and choose the terms of a prenup can actually strengthen your relationship. After all, marriage is a partnership in every sense of the word. Learning how to deal respectfully and constructively with each other about finances is a benefit in itself. So even if you conclude that you don’t need a prenup, using this book can help you converse with each other about the important-and sometimes challenging-financial matters that are sure to arise in the course of your marriage.”

    “When you marry, you make what you expect and hope will be a lifetime commitment to be there for each other in every way. Your prenup should support and reflect the spirit of partnership with which you approach your wedding vows.”

    Is Couples’ Counseling helpful?
    Couples’ Counseling can be very helpful, especially if it’s difficult for you and your fiancé to talk about important issues.

    We think that it’s important to have the tough discussions about married life before you get married, not after. Will you have children? Practice a religion? How will you handle your finances? When do you want to buy a house? Couples’ Counseling can be very valuable in helping you put these issues on the table and start to sort them out. A neutral professional counselor can work with you to help you make sure you’re both on the same track, and that you respect each other’s differences.

    We’re mediators, and while some of the mediators who work at Peace Talks are also licensed therapists, mediation is not the same as therapy. If you come in for mediation and we think that counseling would be helpful, we’ll make that suggestion.

    The Peace Talks Mediation Services office and mediators can give you a counseling referral.

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    How can I get a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?
    Why use mediation or co-mediation for a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement?

    Mediation lets you set the agenda, the schedule, and the flow of the discussions.

    The most important thing that mediation helps you accomplish is that you and your fiancé will discuss the issues and reach an agreement before your individual lawyers get involved. This keeps the cost and acrimony to a minimum.

    You may want to take a look at 10 Tips on Why Prenuptial Agreement Mediation Works.

    There are many advantages to using mediation, and click here to see what we think are the most important advantages.
    To learn more about our mediation staff, take a look at everyone’s mediation profile

    What’s the difference between making a Premarital Agreement & mediation?
    Traditional Way: The typical way of handling premarital agreements is that the fiancé who wants to have a premarital agreement has his or her lawyer draft an agreement which is very favorable to the client asking for the premarital agreement. The recipient attorney then makes many one-sided changes in favor of his or her client (the other fiancé), and then the agreement goes back to the first lawyer, who disagrees with most of the changes. As a result, the agreement is redrafted multiple times… all charged by the hour.

    Worse yet, the first time the couple sees or discusses the agreement may be after the first draft. Their input into the draft itself may be limited, and mostly guided by the lawyers.

    Mediation: The Better Way: The fiancés develop a list of issues to discuss with a mediator, and the mediator helps them explore the options and decide how they’d like to handle each issue. Each fiancé may have the help of an individual lawyer during this process, but the agreement is tailored around the couple’s priorities and needs. The lawyers are acting as sounding boards and advisors, and they’re helping, but not driving, the process.

    The result is that when the agreement is drafted, it represents the agreement of both fiancés. Typically, it needs very little revision.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options before you sign your agreement.

    How much does a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement cost?
    Premarital agreements can be complicated, as you can see from the checklists. If you feel like you need a premarital agreement, you probably do need one, and it’s worth doing correctly.
    Fees start at $1500 for the document and $625 per hour for mediation time. Depending on the complexity of your situation and the issues, you may want to budget between $3500 and $10,000. The mediators at Peace Talks can give you an estimate for your total agreement cost when you come in for your mediation orientation.

    We also suggest building in the cost of a premarital agreement into your wedding budget.

    What topics should my premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement cover?
    There are lots of topics that you can choose to cover. Prenup Checklist. There are also financial disclosures which need to be made – Disclosures Worksheet

    You can include as much or as little as you wish as long as your financial disclosures are complete. Negotiation a premarital agreement is a very personal choice, and the agreement should be tailored to your and your fiancé’s needs.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options before you sign your Agreement.

    How can I be sure it’s a fair premarital agreement?
    California law requires that you each have an attorney to review your premarital agreement before you sign it. Your attorney will help you determine if the agreement is fair for you.

    In some circumstances, you can have a valid premarital agreement without having an attorney represent you, but why take an unnecessary chance with such an important document? If it’s important to do it, it’s important to do it right.

    Take a look at California’s criteria for creating a valid premarital agreement.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options and that you have all of the information you need before you sign your agreement.
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    Will I need an attorney to review my premarital agreement?
    Yes. California Family Code Section 1615 (c)(1) says that a court will assume that an agreement was executed involuntarily if the person against whom it is being enforced wasn’t represented by an attorney.

    In some circumstances, you can have a valid premarital agreement without having an attorney represent you, but why take an unnecessary chance with such an important document? If it’s important to do it, it’s important to do it right.

    Follow this link to the California Family Code Section 1615.

    Do you know who Barry Bonds is? He’s a very successful and talented baseball player.In his case, the premarital agreement was upheld even though his wife didn’t have an attorney to review the agreement for her. California Family Code Section 1615 (c)(1) was probably drafted in reaction to the results of this case, which now means you must each have an attorney if you want for your premarital agreement to have the best chance of being upheld.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options and that you have all of the information you need before you sign your agreement.

    Are premarital agreements or prenuptial agreements enforceable?
    Generally yes, premarital agreements are enforceable, provided that they were executed properly.

    Follow this link to California Family Code Section 1615, which lists the requirements for agreements to be enforceable.

    Waiving spousal support (alimony) has been more controversial, but the way California law stands today, it is probably valid to waive your rights to spousal support in a premarital agreement. Pendleton & Fireman case summary.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options and that you have all of the information you need before you sign your agreement.

    What are California’s laws concerning premarital or prenuptial agreements?
    California Family Code Sections 1600-1617 cover drafting and enforcement of Premarital Agreements and Prenuptial Agreements. Here is a copy of the 2 most important of those laws, with some sample language that may go into a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options and that you have all of the information you need before you sign your agreement.

    Can I change the terms of premarital or prenuptial agreements once signed?
    No. You can’t change the terms of the agreement after you sign it unless both people agree to make the change. That’s why it’s so important to make sure it’s exactly what you want before you sign it.

    The mediators at Peace Talks will help you make sure that you’re making the right decisions and that you’ve covered all the bases before you sign your agreement.

    Once I’ve signed a premarital or prenuptial agreement, can I get out of it?
    No, not unless both you and your spouse agree to terminate the agreement. There’s no “grace period.” Once an agreement has been signed, it’s final unless both people agree to modify it.

    At Peace Talks Mediation Services, our mediators will make sure that you have thought about all of the options and that you have all of the information you need before you sign your Agreement.

    Who keeps the premarital or prenuptial agreement once it’s signed?
    You will sign several originals of the agreement, and both you and your fiancé will keep an original. Your lawyers will also keep a copy, and maybe an original too. If the original gets lost, you can use a photocopy in court in most cases.

    The agreement is confidential unless you decide to record it on the land records. The only reason to record it on the land records is to put other parties on notice that the agreement exists. For example, if part of what your agreement does is protect you against your spouse’s debts, the only way you can bind the 3rd party creditors is by making them aware of the agreement. Typically this is done by recording the agreement, or an abstract of the agreement, on the land records.

    If you mediate your agreement at Peace Talks, we will also keep a copy in our archives in case you ever need it.

    What’s palimony? Am I risking income or assets living together unmarried?
    Yes, you could risk your income or assets by living together without marrying.

    Palimony is a spousal support substitute (like alimony) for people who are not married. Palimony claims are difficult to prove, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying.

    Remember actor Lee Marvin? You can read about his living together situation in this case summary. And then you can imagine what he probably paid in attorneys fees to defend these claims. But that’s only half the story: Michelle Triola Marvin also had an attorney who needed to be paid, too. Taken in this perspective, a premarital agreement or cohabitation agreement is a cost-effective way to handle this type of situation.

    Also, if you have an oral or written contract about how you will own property, share income, assets, debts and so forth, it’s sometimes possible to make a claim that although you were never married that contract law applies, and that property should be divided even if it’s only in one person’s name, or even if only one person paid the bills. There are also real estate partition laws that can dictate how property is divided, and in some cases the court can even force an involuntary sale at auction.

    If you are going to live together without getting married, you’ll want a cohabitation agreement. The mediators at Peace Talks feel it’s better to decide who contributes to and owns property before you buy things rather than afterwards. The mediators as Peace Talks can help you mediate and draft a cohabitation agreement.

    Post-nuptial Agreements are very similar to Premarital Agreements, except they are drafted and signed after you are married. They can cover the same terms and issues as a Premarital Agreement.

    They are more difficult to enforce, however, because of the duties that one spouse owes to another. The disclosure requirements are more strict. Most importantly, it’s against public policy to encourage divorces, and the (unstated) implication in a post-martial Agreement of “sign this or we’re getting divorced” makes it difficult to prove that a post-marital agreement was executed voluntarily.

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