Approaching the subject
So how does one broach this touchy subject?
First, do it as early as possible. The mention of a prenup shouldn't
come as a surprise if you and your sweetheart have been open with
each other as the relationship became serious.
Nancy Dunnan, a New York City financial adviser and
author, recommends couples talk it over before the engagement. "Let
your intended know you believe these agreements are important and
that you'd like to go over the topic."
Second, the discussion must be honest. "You have
to be real candid about why you want the agreement. It's not very
romantic, but you have to appreciate what the other party's concerns
are," says Michael McDonough, a Palm Beach County, Fla., lawyer
who specializes in matrimonial and family law.
The first step in the prenup process should be to
sit down with your sweetie and reach an agreement about what, in
general, you want the contract to say. "Draw up your list of
assets and talk about it before you hire the lawyers," suggests
Zwack. "You won't know the specific laws, but have a concept
Doing that can save you money. Fees for prenups depend
on how long they take to draft. Hourly wages for attorneys can go
from $300 to $500 an hour on the East and West coasts. In the Midwest,
you might be able to get away with $100 to $125 an hour. Ask your
attorney at the first meeting what the anticipated charges will
Next, hire separate attorneys. To help ensure an enforceable
agreement, both parties need their own lawyers. Many a prenup has
been thrown out because an aggrieved spouse did not have legal representation.
The attorneys co-write the agreement with their clients' best interests
--Posted: June 15, 1999