If you clicked on this article, you’re likely considering a prenup and hiring a prenup attorney to assist you. That is a great choice. We’re here to tell you all about what to look for in a prenuptial agreement lawyer. Not all attorneys are one-size-fits-all! You should consider things like cost, skill, experience, years of practice, and compatibility. Don’t worry; we’ll walk you through all of these things. Keep reading to find out what to look for in prenuptial agreement lawyers!
Do you need a lawyer for a prenup?
This answer mainly depends on your state. It can also depend on what you want to do in your prenup. However, the reality is that most states do not require a lawyer for a prenup to be valid. The laws surrounding prenuptial agreements are dictated by state law, which can vary state-to-state. Let’s look at some examples.
In California, a lawyer is not required for a valid prenup…UNLESS you alter spousal support in your prenup, then, yes, you need a lawyer. In New York, a lawyer is not required to generate a valid prenup. However, having a lawyer may work in your favor if the prenup is ever challenged in court. The same goes for Massachusetts–having a prenup lawyer isn’t required, but it certainly helps support a claim that you have a valid prenup (if the prenup is ever challenged in court).
HelloPrenup offers you a legally sound way to generate a prenuptial agreement. If you choose to use HelloPrenup and an attorney, then this is still a great way to cut down on legal fees. Picture it going something like this: You generate your prenup on the HelloPrenup platform, but you have some legal questions about it. You take it to your local prenup lawyer, and they review it and answer questions for you. Bam. You have saved yourselves hundreds of dollars in attorney’s fees, you created a prenup in record time, your questions are answered, and your mind is at ease. What could be better than that!?
Can you use one lawyer for both fiancés?
NO! If you are going the route of hiring an attorney, then you each need to have your own. One attorney cannot represent both of you, as that is a conflict of interest. Think of it this way; a lawyer cannot adequately advocate for both of you at the same time since you are technically two opposite parties to a single contract. Just don’t do it (a legitimate attorney wouldn’t ever take this on anyway)!
If one of you wants a lawyer, but the other doesn’t, depending on the state, it may be okay. However, many lawyers might actually reject a client whose partner doesn’t also have an attorney. This is because only having one attorney between the two spouses may raise concerns over the prenup’s validity in divorce court. In some states, if one partner has a lawyer but the other doesn’t, the one without a lawyer must sign a written waiver acknowledging that they are waiving their rights to a lawyer.
What does a prenuptial agreement lawyer do?
A prenup attorney will consult with you about your case; they will ask you specific questions about your life, finances, and goals, and based on those answers, will generate a prenup that is tailored to your specific needs and wants. They will also answer any questions you may have about your prenup, divorce, or any other prenup-related matter. A prenup lawyer may also represent you should the prenup ever get challenged in court.
Things to look for in a prenuptial agreement lawyer
Not all lawyers are created equal. For example, an intellectual property lawyer most likely has no idea what goes on in the family law sphere, let alone drafting prenups. So, for starters, you should look for a family law attorney who specializes in prenuptial agreements. And, yes, some family law attorneys are not privy to laws on prenups, so not all family law attorneys are an option.
You should also look for someone you feel comfortable with, as you will be spending a lot of time divulging very personal information to this person. Maybe you’d feel the most comfortable speaking with someone of the same gender as you, and that’s okay! Choosing a lawyer is a personal preference, and you have the right to make that choice.
Experience and skill. You should also be looking for a prenup lawyer with a certain level of experience and skill that would match your needs. For example, you may want to steer away from a new grad who has minimal experience in family law. Or, let’s say you have a particularly complex case with intricate finances. This may call for someone with a lot of experience and skills. You might look for someone with 10+ years of experience and maybe some accolades under their belt.
Cost! Of course, this is probably one of the first things you’ll consider naturally, but it’s worth mentioning. The cost of a lawyer is important to understand prior to choosing one. You’ll want to obtain a lawyer within your price range because you don’t want to rush through sessions just to save yourself a buck. It’ll end up causing you more stress, and it’s just not necessary! So, choose a lawyer that you feel has an appropriate price range for you.
How do I find a prenuptial agreement lawyer?
Well, you can start with good old Google and typing in “prenup lawyer near me.” This is an excellent way to get the search started. Remember, you don’t have to go with the first person you find. You can shop around a bit if you want.
HelloPrenup also has a list of attorneys that you might consider taking a look at if you live in California.
Then, of course, there’s the word-of-mouth option. Asking friends, colleagues, family, friends-of-friends, etc., about their attorney recommendations. This is always a great way to get a solid attorney and understand what they’ll be like before stepping foot into their office.
You can also check your local bar association. Some states have a “find a lawyer” section where you can filter out by things like specialty (i.e., family law). This is another excellent way to go about finding a lawyer.
Prepare for your first meeting with the lawyer
What’s next after you’ve found your perfect match (a prenup lawyer, that is)? Preparing, of course! It’ll speed up your session with the lawyer if you prepare yourself. Remember, more time in an attorney’s office = more billable hours. Attorney’s hourly rates are typically anywhere from $300-$1000 per hour! Yikes!
One way you can speed up the process is by listing out all of your assets, debts, businesses, etc. Basically, anything you own or partially own that has economic value. We’re talking real estate, bank accounts, retirement funds, student loan balances, business value, artwork, jewelry, vehicles, and more! This will help your attorney get a big-picture understanding of what your finances look like and how complex (or not complex) your finances might be.
You can also start thinking about your goals for the prenup. What do you actually want to put in writing? How do you feel about alimony (i.e., spousal support)? Debt? Pets? Life insurance? These are all things you need to start deciding so you are not wasting time while your attorney’s billing clock is ticking.
Another excellent route would be to generate a prenup with HelloPrenup and take it to an attorney for review, questions, and possibly representation (if you want or require that). Many of our customers like to use both HelloPrenup and a local attorney to help them complete the prenup process. Doing so gives them control over their prenup with HelloPrenup’s interactive platform while also getting the benefit of an attorney. Not to mention, you can generate a prenup in just an hour and a half for $599 per couple, all the while being in the driver’s seat (and on your couch!). All that’s left? A session or two with a lawyer who can review the HelloPrenup contract and answer questions for you (and possibly represent you, depending on your situation). This saves time, money, and even sanity for most people!
The Bottom Line
Attorneys come in all shapes and sizes. Some are business lawyers; others are intellectual property lawyers. What you are looking for is a family law lawyer specializing in prenuptial agreements. Not every single lawyer will know how to draft a prenup, believe it or not! There’s generally no required “prenup-making class” in law school.
Also, make sure you find a lawyer that matches your energy and that you feel comfortable with. After all, you’ll be spending lots of time with them, telling them intimate details about your life and finances. Don’t forget about skills and experience. You should think about what level of experience and skill your specific case may need. Finally, cost! Cost is a crucial part of finding an attorney that works for you.
And always remember, HelloPrenup has got your back! We’re here to help you generate a legally sound prenup that is customized to your needs.
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]