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3 tips for negotiating a prenuptial agreement

With engagement season behind us and wedding season in full swing, many couples are in the throes of wedding plans. With all the bustle of securing a venue, finding a good caterer, picking the perfect dress or tux, and dealing with the million other details of planning a wedding, a prenuptial agreement may be your last priority.

Maybe your fiancé(e) or future in-laws brought up the topic, putting a damper on all those wedding plans. Do they not trust you or believe this marriage will work?

A prenuptial agreement is far from a vote of no confidence in your upcoming marriage. Instead, it gives couples the opportunity to disclose and discuss important financial issues ahead of the wedding. Both partners may then proceed with equal understanding of what's going into the marital estate.

There is a right way and a wrong way to approach this subject, however. Here are a few ways to successfully negotiate a premarital agreement.

Bring it up early

Prenuptial agreements generally require full financial disclosure of each partner's assets, debts, business investments and other financial resources. Gathering this data takes time. Both partners also need time to review and negotiate the terms of the agreement.

Therefore, the worst thing you can do is wait until the very last minute. Furthermore, if you or your family pressures your partner to sign the agreement without reviewing it carefully, a future court may throw it out altogether.

Develop it together

Both partners should actively take part in drafting the prenuptial agreement. Do not make this into a power play by handing your soon-to-be spouse a contract that leaves no room for negotiation. Instead, bring up the topic in a nonconfrontational way, and negotiate the terms together.

Also, even if your parents or future in-laws are pressuring you to get a prenup, they should not have final say in how it comes together. This is an agreement between the two of you - not you and the family.

Hire professional counsel

This is one aspect of the wedding that you should not "do it yourself." For one thing, one-size-fits-all forms pulled from the internet may not be enforceable under Michigan state laws. For another, you could inadvertently sign away your rights. A qualified family lawyer will ensure your prenuptial agreement adheres to the law and protects to your mutually shared interests.

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