Congrats on the engagement! Your next step may be discussing a prenuptial agreement (good on you!). But how does one find a prenup lawyer in San Diego? Do you just go down to Mission Beach and yell out, “Does anyone know of a good prenup lawyer??” Well, that is one way to go about it, and it could work, you never know! But that may not be the most reliable way to find a good one. Plus, what is considered a “good” one? Is it someone Harvard-educated with a high-profile clientele? And once you find a good prenup lawyer, what do they actually do for you? We answer all of these questions (and more) for you below, so keep reading.
How to find a prenup lawyer in San Diego
We’ve jotted down a few steps to help you find a perfect legal match for your San Diego prenup agreement.
Step 1: Utilize your network
Word of mouth works wonders for finding a good lawyer. They’re pre-vetted by someone you trust and their services have been tested. Asking friends, family, coworkers, and maybe even acquaintances is a great way to begin your search for a prenup lawyer in San Diego.
Step 2: Search online
You can use Google to start. Try searching “prenup lawyer San Diego,” “prenuptial agreement attorney San Diego,” and/or “prenup lawyer near me.” These are all great search words to try.
You can also try other websites like Reddit or Avvo to search for lawyers. Reddit is an online anonymous community that you can search for pretty much anything on. You might have to make an account, but you could start by asking the San Diego subreddit if anyone has a prenup lawyer recommendation. Avvo is a website made to search for lawyers in your area. You can filter by specialty (family law) and by location (San Diego, California).
Step 3: Try the California Bar Association
A more formal online method of finding a prenup lawyer in San Diego is going to the California Bar Association website. There, you can see a list of referral options that may be able to refer you to an excellent prenup attorney in your area.
Step 4: Check their website
A key thing to understand is that not all family law lawyers practice the same areas of law. Some family law attorneys may do divorce and custody while others only do prenuptial agreements. Make sure the attorneys you are seeking out actually have experience with prenup agreements.
Step 5: Read previous client reviews online
Another great way to vet out a potential prenup lawyer in San Diego is to read their reviews online. You can find reviews on Google and Avvo (and possibly other sites, but these are two good places to start). If you’re seeing a trend of lots and lots of 1-star reviews, you may want to skip that lawyer. Read through the good and the bad so you get an idea of the lawyer’s work style.
Step 6: Set up a test run
Most San Diego prenup lawyers will offer a free 15-minute consultation where you can essentially do a meet-and-greet to see if you like them. You can ask them basic questions (not super in-depth legal questions), such as timeline and cost. In those 15 minutes, you should get a decent idea of their personality and if you would feel comfortable divulging sensitive information to them, such as financial info and personal relationship info.
What is considered a good prenup lawyer
You may be wondering what you’re even looking for when you’re searching for a prenup lawyer. What makes a prenup lawyer “good?” Here are some things you may want to look out for that indicate you’ve found a good one:
- They have over ten years of prenup experience
- They only do prenups (i.e., their main focus is prenups and no other area of law)
- They have a mediation background (i.e., they are good with helping couples come to an agreement without needing litigation)
- They facilitate a calm and cooperative environment as opposed to a litigator who may have a more hostile way of practicing
- They want the best for you and your partner’s marriage
- You feel comfortable with them
Remember, you don’t need to find a Harvard law grad who did Kim Kardashian’s prenup. You only need to find someone with excellent prenup experience, a cooperative work style, and an advocate for your marriage.
What do prenup lawyers do in San Diego?
Now, let’s discuss what happens when you hire a prenup lawyer. What do they actually do?
Most prenup lawyers in San Diego will offer a 10 to 30-minute free consultation to discuss basics with you, such as the timeline, the cost, and the logistics.
- Legal advice
Once you retain your prenup lawyer, they may begin giving you legal advice regarding the prenup agreement. For example, they will take a look at your finances, your partner’s finances, your individual goals, and your combined goals and begin advising you on what to put into your agreement.
- Write the prenup itself
Then, of course, they will draft the contract and make sure it is customized to your needs. They typically work off of a template and add/change clauses as they pertain to your situation. Your lawyer will also be familiar with the laws in San Diego and make sure your prenup is compliant with such.
- Answer questions
Once you get a first draft of the prenup agreement, it’s likely you’ll have questions. For example, you may wonder what a severability clause is or a death clause. Or maybe you’re wondering how the prenup works if you ever file for divorce. Any and all questions can be answered by your prenup lawyer.
Then, if there are any discrepancies in the agreement between you and your partner, your prenup lawyer will negotiate with their lawyer. A good prenup lawyer will keep negotiations calm, cool, and collected and try to avoid a hostile environment.
What do prenup lawyers do NOT do?
Your prenup lawyer generally isn’t your divorce lawyer (unless you want them to be, one day). A prenup lawyer is an advocate for your marriage. You aren’t getting divorced when you hire a prenup lawyer. Should you ever file for divorce one day, you may choose to hire your prenup lawyer to represent you (if they do divorces) or you may hire someone else.
Also, prenup lawyers can only represent one person. They cannot represent both of you. So if your partner wants or needs a lawyer, they will need to hire someone else.
Do I need a lawyer for my San Diego prenup?
In some situations in California, a prenup lawyer is mandatory for a prenup to be valid and enforceable. That situation is if you alter spousal support in your prenup you will be required to hire a lawyer. In other words, if you are including a clause that limits or eliminates your or your spouse’s right to spousal support, then you will need legal representation in order for it to be enforced if you ever get a divorce.
On the other hand, if you do not alter spousal support in any way, a lawyer isn’t legally required in San Diego, as long as you explicitly waive this right in the prenup. “Explicitly waiving your right” means you signed off on something that says (in writing) you are aware that you will not be hiring a lawyer and you’re okay with the consequences of that.
The average cost of a prenup lawyer in San Diego
Now, you may be wondering how much this will all cost. What does a good prenup lawyer in San Diego charge? Well, this answer is nuanced. For one, some attorneys charge flat rates while others charge hourly. Some people may feel more comfortable with a flat rate charge because you know exactly what you’re getting into. However, it’s more common for attorneys to charge hourly because it’s hard for them to know exactly how much work a prenup will take them.
Let’s break down what an average prenup may cost in San Diego. The average hourly rate for a lawyer in California is approximately $358 per hour. If you have a straightforward case, it may take a prenup lawyer 12 hours to create your prenup from start to finish (1 hour consultation; 8 hours drafting; 2 hours negotiations, 1 hour review, and Q&A). The average cost would come out to $4,296).
Now, keep in mind this price can fluctuate quickly. If you hire an extremely experienced lawyer the attorney’s hourly rate may be much higher than $358. In addition, if you have complex finances, intricate requests, and/or difficult negotiations, it may take your lawyer much more than 12 hours to get the prenup done.
Finding a good prenup lawyer in San Diego is like finding a burrito: super simple. Just follow a few basic steps, like asking around your network, searching online, and using the California Bar Association website. Then, vet them by checking their website, reading client reviews, and doing a test run. Remember, a good prenup lawyer is someone collaborative, with excellent prenup experience, and has a goal to bolster your marriage.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]