Welcome to the land of corn, basketball, and county fairs. Whether you’re in Bloomington, Indianapolis, or Gary, getting a prenup in the Hoosier State may be a good idea! But where to start? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is probably how to find a prenup lawyer in Indiana… or if you even need one in the first place. We cover all that and much more, so keep reading to learn everything you need to know about prenups and prenup lawyers in America’s heartland, Indiana.
Do I need a prenuptial agreement lawyer in Indiana?
The answer is no, a prenup lawyer is not a prerequisite for a valid and enforceable prenup in Indiana. HOWEVER–having a lawyer may become a factor that is considered if the agreement is ever challenged. Wait, what? That’s confusing. Basically, in plain English, you don’t need a prenup lawyer to have your prenup be upheld. However, if your prenup is ever challenged based on unconscionability, an Indiana court will look at all of the circumstances of your situation, including whether each party had independent legal advice. So, if there was lack of independent legal advice, and other circumstances, a court may throw out the agreement. (See Fetters v. Fetters, 26 N.E.3d 1016, 1021 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015)).
Let’s take a look at a case (Fetters v. Fetters) where a prenup was thrown out and the court considered a lack of independent legal advice as a factor. In 2015, Jay Fetters engaged in a sexual relationship with Julie, a 14-year-old, when he was 29-years old. A year into the relationship, when Julie was 15, she became impregnated by Jay. To avoid police investigation, they got married. However, before the wedding Jay insisted on a prenuptial agreement that kept all of his property separate. Julie was 16 years old when she signed off on the prenup, along with her mother who also signed the prenup. Of note is that Julie could barely read and had no attorney to explain the terms to her. Based on multiple factors, Julie’s age, the nature of the sexual relationship, Julie’s lack of education, lack of understanding the agreement, and lack of an attorney, the court ruled this prenup to be unconscionable and not enforceable.
As you can see in the case above, the presence of various circumstances played a significant role. While the absence of legal advice may or may not have invalidated the agreement, when examining the case holistically, the involvement of an attorney did have an impact here.
How to find a good prenuptial agreement lawyer in Indiana
One way to find a good prenup lawyer is to ask your network. You can start by asking your friends and family, “Hoosier prenup lawyer?” (Get it: who’s your… prenup lawyer…). Okay, okay, jokes aside, asking your trusted network about their experiences with prenup lawyers is a great way to find one for yourself. They’ve already dealt with this specific attorney and can give you great insights on how they practice and whether or not it would be a good fit for you.
Another tried and true way to find an excellent prenup attorney is to check Indiana’s bar association website. There is also the Indianapolis bar association, Monroe County bar association, and more. These associations offer ways to find a good prenup attorney near you. They often have referral pages or lawyer lookup pages that help filter your search for a lawyer.
Finally, there’s always Google to turn to. You can try searching terms like “Indiana prenup attorney” or “Bloomington family law attorney” or something of the like. Just remember to check out the attorney’s website and their client reviews to ensure the lawyer fits your needs and is reputable.
Why should I hire a prenup lawyer in Indiana?
While having a lawyer is not required by default in Indiana, it can definitely create a layer of protection if your prenup is ever challenged in the future. There’s also other benefits, such as custom clauses, legal advice, handling negotiations, and more. Below, we lay out some of the benefits of hiring an Indiana prenup lawyer:
They can answer your legal questions
If you’re wondering what in the world “alimony” means or how financial disclosure works, a prenup lawyer can help you. They can answer all of your legal questions and ensure you don’t feel “in the dark” throughout the process.
They handle negotiations for you
If you and your partner are struggling to come to terms about certain aspects in the prenup, such as alimony, property division, or other matters, your attorneys can handle this without your presence. This can take some of the stress and uncomfortableness off your plate and you can let the experts take the wheel.
They explain dense legal clauses to you
Unsure what a “severability clause” is? Or what that waiver at the end of your prenup means? Your attorney can explain these dense legal clauses and terms to you so you feel 100% comfortable in what you are signing.
Having independent legal advice adds a layer of protection in Indiana
As you can read in the section above in the Fetters case, having a lawyer is not a requirement, but may help your case if your prenup is ever challenged on the basis of unconscionability. In other words, it’s not a requirement, but may help your case one day.
Prenup requirements in Indiana
What is required for a valid and enforceable prenup in the Hoosier state? Well, one thing to note is that Indiana has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (the UPAA), which is a uniform act available for states to adopt to create consistency and uniformity across the U.S. in regards to prenup laws. Twenty-eight states (including Indiana) have adopted the UPAA in some way. So, what does Indiana say about valid and enforceable prenups?
- The prenup must be in writing and signed by both parties.
- The prenup must be signed voluntarily (no force or duress).
- The prenup must not be unconscionable when it was created.
- The prenup must not create a hardship for a spouse by waiving spousal maintenance (i.e., alimony).
See Ind. Code §§ 31-11-3-1 to 31 through 11-3-10 for the fine print.
Cost of an Indiana prenup lawyer vs. HelloPrenup
We can’t tell you exactly how much it will cost you for a prenup lawyer in Indiana, as there are so many different factors that play into that cost. For example, the attorney’s hourly rate, your specific finances, your prenup requests, how long negotiations take, and other factors will all play a role in determining the cost. However, you may get an idea of how much it will cost you by knowing that the average prenup in the U.S. costs about $2,500, according to Business Insider. Once more, the total will vary based on your attorney’s fees and the particulars of your situation. Given that Indiana is a state with a lower cost of living, you won’t be facing the expense of an attorney in a high-cost area like Beverly Hills, for instance.
However, let’s look at HelloPrenup’s cost in comparison. HelloPrenup offers a state-compliant agreement for $599 per couple. It works like this: you and your partner sign up for HelloPrenup. You both undergo an independent questionnaire, where you will each, separately, answer questions related to you, your goals for the prenup, and your finances. Once completed, you both will go through negotiations if there are any discrepancies in your answers. For example, if one person wants to waive alimony and the other does not. You two can privately work this out together. Then, all that’s left is to download your agreement, and sign/notarize it!
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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]