Many times clients come to me far in advance of their wedding to put together a prenup for them. They have talked about the process and what they want in their document. They’ve done their homework and they are ready to get everything put down in writing. As they know, one of the core concerns in preparing a prenup is that both parties have enough time to review the document. Each party needs to put together a full disclosure of their finances. They need to exchange the disclosures and often need to make a few changes to the agreement. It’s pretty rare for two parties to just sign the first draft of the prenup. But these partners are on top of it and want to get the process moving.
Another common scenario is that one person has their attorney draft a prenup. They may or may not have told their partner they were going to do it. And as the wedding date approaches, they suddenly spring the agreement on their partner. If they haven’t talked about it before, this can cause some initial stress.
What Do I Do?
The first thing NOT to do is panic. There is no requirement that you have to sign the document. You love your boyfriend, you can’t wait to marry him, but you don’t have to sign anything you don’t want to sign.
The next thing NOT to do is just sign the agreement without reading it. This advice goes for pretty much any document given to you, especially legal ones. Don’t sign something you haven’t read and that you don’t understand.
So what should you do? Take a deep breath. It’s only words on a page of paper. It’s not set in stone. You don’t legally have to sign it if you don’t want to. Take some time and read through the document. Many times, you will understand more than you initially feared you would. Many agreements are not as complicated as you assume they will be. And when you get to the parts you don’t understand? Call a lawyer.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars just to talk to a lawyer about the agreement. It should be easy enough to reach out to a lawyer and set up a consultation. Review the agreement before you go. Highlight your questions. Flag the pages of legal language you don’t understand. Even if you don’t hire that lawyer to help you negotiate the agreement, that meeting will be time well spent to help you understand the agreement.
And if you and the lawyer just don’t connect on a good working level? Find another lawyer. You aren’t stuck with the first person you call…