Finding a good prenup lawyer is like picking out the perfect apple at the grocery store. The first one you pick up might have some bruises on it, but the second one you pick might be glossy, ripe, and prime for the picking. Okay, it’s really not that dramatic; there are great prenup lawyers in every state. Plus, there are tons of benefits to finding a good prenup attorney, including walking away with a freshly inked, high-quality, personalized prenup that should hold up in court if it ever comes down to it. A good prenup lawyer will compassionately support you and educate you on your choices. They will know the law in and out and specialize in prenuptial agreements (not all family law attorneys do!). Keep reading to find out more about how to find the perfect lawyer for you.
Benefits of a good prenup lawyer
The main benefit of finding a good prenup lawyer is creating a highly customized, high-quality prenuptial agreement. An ironclad prenup means it should be enforceable and valid if the time ever comes to use it. Experienced lawyers not only know the law but have seen situations (similar to yours) time and time again, both in the context of a prenup and a divorce. They’ve seen the outcome and the process of getting there. They know what happens. They may even be closely connected to the judges who help them understand the dos and don’ts of prenups!
Another benefit is learning all of your options. A good prenup lawyer will give you all of your options and help you understand what each one means. This gives you the full landscape of legal knowledge to help you make the best decision for your life. For example, before obtaining a good prenup lawyer, you might not have even thought of adding a sunset clause, but after learning about what it does, you realize it would really make sense for your situation. (Side note: HelloPrenup also offers this option and explains it to you thoroughly)!
Finally, a good prenup attorney will show compassion and empathy while supporting you through this journey. They will help you decide what is in your best interests and come up with an agreement that truly speaks to your marriage and life. There’s nothing worse than hiring someone who has a short fuse and doesn’t show that they care. This can cause more stress in an already tense situation.
What does a prenup lawyer do?
Alright, you’re sold on getting a lawyer, but what do they actually do, you ask? A good prenup lawyer will first explain the law to you. Help you understand the world of prenuptial agreement law and divorce law. Understanding how your state’s divorce law works is a great place to begin to help you conceptualize what needs to go into your prenup. For example, states have different methods of property division, and it’s important to understand how that would work with or without a prenup. A good prenup lawyer will be able to apply the state’s default laws to your specific situation and desires and help you come up with terms that feel right for you.
A prenup attorney will help you classify your property according to the law and your wishes. For example, that house you purchased years before the marriage, do you want to keep it separate, or are you okay with your partner possibly having a portion of it in the case of divorce? What about property accumulated during the marriage? Debt? Inheritances? Businesses? All of these types of property will be classified in your prenup. Your lawyer can help you understand the ins and outs of each option.
Then there’s the topic of alimony (i.e., spousal support or maintenance). This is another area that you may choose to opt-out of, or you might just limit it to a dollar amount. This area of prenuptial agreements is highly dependent on state law. Note you may also have to negotiate this aspect with your partner, as well.
Clauses. Do you know every single clause available to you and enforceable in your state? We didn’t think so, but a good prenup lawyer sure does. There is a slew of clauses you can include, such as infidelity clauses, pet custody, social media clauses, sunset clauses, and many more. Again, what clauses you may use depend on your state. Your attorney can help advise you on which clauses are available and which ones would make sense for your situation.
A prenup attorney will also draft the prenup for you. No, you won’t be sent home with a homework assignment requiring you to type up the prenup. Of course, the attorney will have an appointment (or two) with you to understand your situation, your goals, and your wishes for the prenup to draft a document tailored to you. You will receive a copy to review and approve. As you might have guessed, prenuptial agreements can be quite dense, so you may ask your attorney any questions about the document that may seem confusing.
The attorney may also help with negotiations with your partner. If you have an attorney, it’s typically best practice that your partner also has one (but not always required and may be state-dependent). So, unless you and your partner are perfectly aligned on every last drop of the prenup, there will probably need to be some negotiations. For example, maybe you want to eliminate alimony altogether, but your partner does not. This needs to be worked out so you two can come to an agreement that you both feel good about. Your attorney may advise against certain things that your partner wants. The decision is ultimately up to you.
How to find the best prenup attorney
For starters, you need to find an attorney that specializes in prenuptial agreements. Not all family law attorneys are well-versed in the prenup arena. There are so many different clauses and requirements that go into a prenup, so you need someone who really knows the law around prenups and, yes, divorce in your state.
Secondly, you should make sure to speak to multiple attorneys before selecting your final pick. Just like you probably wouldn’t marry the very first person you ever dated, you should also “date around” with the attorneys. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy process like dating might be. Just talk to a handful of attorneys and see who you feel most comfortable with.
Okay, now, how do you actually go about finding an attorney? Well, fortunately, HelloPrenup offers a list of independent California attorneys that you may consider consulting with regarding your prenup! Easy peasy!
If you’re not from California, then you can start with good old Google. Searching “prenuptial agreement attorney near me” may be a good place to start. Sometimes, you can read reviews on attorneys online, which might help you in your search.
You can also ask for attorney referrals from friends, family, and acquaintances. Or, at the very least, maybe they can help you steer clear of some not-so-great lawyers.
Still no luck? Try your local bar association. The American Bar Association offers “lawyer finders” in almost every state. Make sure to filter down by practice area (family law) and then make sure they are specialized in prenuptial agreements.
Preparing for your first appointment
You’ve done the research, you’ve put in the work, and you have an excellent prenup lawyer to help you draft your prenup. All that’s left is preparing for your first appointment with them. What can you do to make sure it goes smoothly? Do your homework! Start thinking about your finances and what your goals are with the prenup. It will make both of your lives easier to have a good understanding of what you want to accomplish with your prenup before stepping foot into the office.
HelloPrenup has an excellent database of information to help you get the brain juices flowing. This article talks about what you can and cannot put into a prenup which is a great starting point. Here’s another good one.
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]