You need a pre-nup because you need to talk about money.
The honeymoon is definitely over when you suddenly learn that your spouse is saddled with debt, or that they have a dramatically different idea about how your paycheck should be spent. Having a full and frank discussion with your intended about the current state of your finances, as well as your spending habits, financial goals, and your general attitudes about money is essential before saying "I do." In fact, it can even strengthen your relationship. In one recent survey, 90 percent of couples that described themselves as in a happy relationship talk about money at least once a month. Conversely, only 68 percent of unhappy couples talk about money this often. Another study found that 31 percent of couples argue about money at least once a month- Yikes!
Engaging an attorney to draft a pre-nuptual agreement is a fantastic way to stimulate and guide such a discussion, and can lead to peace of mind. This is true whether you've already built a nest egg or are just getting started. That process will give you a safe space to make disclosures, as well as a timetable for having those potentially-difficult discussions.
It's okay if you have a very different attitude about money than your betrothed. Just use the time and the experience of drafting a pre-nup to work out a game plan for your future financial life together. Honoring financial agreements that you make now will strengthen the trust and bond between you and your spouse in the years to come.
The first step in any case is consulting with a knowledgeable attorney who can evaluate your case and develop a strategy tailored to your unique issues and concerns. Many attorneys charge a fee for the initial consultation, so it's important that you come prepared to get the most value for your money. Generally, the purposes of the initial consultation are 1) to help the attorney gain a basic understanding of the facts of your case, and to determine what your goals are, 2) to learn up front if there are any "red flags" in your case, and 3) to decide if you and that attorney are a "good fit." But how do you make all that happen in about an hour?
What are the facts?
While it is normal to be emotional when discussing your case, especially in a family law matter, you will get the most value out of your time with the attorney if you are able to succinctly state the important facts in a manner that is easy to understand.
You'd be surprised how many people struggle with communicating in a linear manner, but that's the best way to convey facts to someone who's never heard your story before. Remember the basic principle of "start at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop." Before the consultation, it's a good idea to prepare a timeline of events in your case. During this process, think about what facts may be important from a legal perspective, versus the facts that are important to you from a purely emotional perspective.
Typically in a divorce matter, you should be able to readily address the following questions:
Through a formal agreement or temporary orders, the attorney can address these pressing issues. Examples of some common issues in a divorce are:
For divorces with children and child custody matters, you will need to address the following:
Be sure to inform the attorney of any special issues that may apply to your case. Examples include:
Manage your expectations
If you have been referred to an attorney by a friend or family member, don't expect to have the exact same result in your case as they got. Remember that your case is different from whoever referred you.
If you have expectations for your case that the attorney does not believe are realistic or achievable, don't get upset or argue with them. It may be that you need to regroup and accept a different strategy or goal for your case. If you're truly not satisfied, remember that there are plenty of attorneys out there, and you're always welcome to get a second opinion. Don't set yourself up to be disappointed if you and the attorney are on different pages from day one.
How much will this cost?
You should be prepared to discuss the attorney's fee for the case. If you realize that paying the attorney for their work is beyond your means, be honest with yourself and don't sign a contract. It's better to look for an attorney you can afford at the first stage of your case, rather than hiring an attorney who will soon withdraw due to non-payment.
Are we a "good fit"
During the initial consultation, you should be thinking about how well you might work with the attorney. This is a professional relationship in which both sides are trusting and relying on one another to get the best ultimate result. It's best to know up front if there are any differences of personality or communication style that may impede the working relationship. For example, maybe you expect compassion and sympathy, but the attorney is all business. That doesn't mean they're a bad attorney, it just means that maybe you're not a "good fit." If that's the case, you may have a more satisfying experience by looking elsewhere.
Lishman Law, PLLC
310 S. St. Mary's St., Suite 2500, San Antonio, Texas 78205
This website is for informational purposes only. Using this site or communicating with Sarah Anne Lishman through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship. This site is legal advertising.