POV: You live in Wilmington, North Carolina and you hit the farmer’s market before jetting to the beach for the day. You and your partner are planning your wedding in a few months while sitting on the waterside. Before you can finalize wedding plans, you need to get a prenup. You do some research and find the perfect prenuptial agreement attorney in Wilmington. You cheer with an ice-cold Front Street Brewery IPA.
Okay, let’s get serious. How do you go about finding a prenup attorney? What is considered a “good” one? What do they even do? What are some advantages to hiring one? We answer all of your burning questions on prenuptial agreement attorneys in Wilmington below.
Steps to finding a prenuptial agreement attorney in Wilmington, North Carolina
Let’s lay out some basic steps for you to follow to find your perfect legal match.
Step 1: Word of mouth
Ah, the power of word of mouth. You’ve asked your friends and family if they know of a good florist, doctor, carpenter, plumber, etc., etc. You can do the same thing for a prenuptial agreement lawyer in Wilmington.
Step 2: Look on the internet
Try searching for prenuptial agreement attorneys in Wilmington on Google with search terms such as “prenup lawyer Wilmington,” “prenuptial agreement attorney Wilmington, North Carolina,” and/or “prenup lawyer near me.” You can mix and match terms and try different phrases.
Avvo is another reliable way to search for lawyers in your area. Avvo is a website specifically made for people to find lawyers. You can filter by your city state and specialty. You’ll want to filter down to family law attorneys in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Another idea is to go on Reddit. Maybe check out the North Carolina subreddit or Ask Lawyers subreddit and search for Wilmington prenup lawyer recommendations. Reddit is an anonymous site for people to talk about pretty much anything. You may get some solid recommendations from strangers on the internet. You’ll definitely still want to vet these lawyers, but it could be a good place to start!
Step 3: Make sure they do prenups
Once you have a solid recommendation for a few lawyers, you’ll want to make sure they actually do prenups. Many divorce attorneys and family law attorneys do not do prenups. That is why it’s crucial to check their website and see what services they provide.
Step 4: Check out customer reviews on Avvo and Google
What have their past customers said about them? Do they have a bunch of 1-star reviews? Use your best judgment when reading through these reviews, and don’t forget to take them with a grain of salt.
Step 5: Set up an initial consultation
Do a “test run,” if you will, to see if you even like the attorney. Most attorneys in Wilmington will offer a free 10 to 30-minute consultation to ask basic, non-legal questions, such as timeline, logistics, and price. During this time, you can see if you feel comfortable with the lawyer. Remember, you will be divulging extremely intimate information to them, such as how much money you make and your marital goals.
What is considered a good prenuptial agreement attorney?
When you find yourself in search of a prenuptial agreement attorney, it can often feel like you’re navigating a maze, wondering how to distinguish the good attorneys from the rest. Don’t worry, we totally get it. That’s why we’ve listed out some traits of a “good” prenuptial agreement attorney below.
Someone who has ten or more years of prenuptial agreement drafting, negotiating, and litigating experience is probably pretty “good” in our book. They’ve been through it all, seen it all, and have already made their newbie mistakes. They’re in the prime of their career and can probably get your prenup done faster and more efficiently than a newbie.
An attorney who ONLY practices prenuptial agreements is your best bet. Someone who does divorce, custody, child support, domestic violence, adoptions, and appeals may not have the time and bandwidth to understand prenuptial agreements as deeply as someone who only does prenuptial agreements.
Someone with a mediation background is more likely to have a collaborative and gentle approach to their practice. This is opposed to someone who is a divorce attorney and is constantly in litigation mode and may have a more hostile approach to a prenup. Plus, mediators are better able to help couples come to an agreement using excellent communication tactics.
Advocate for your marriage
While you definitely want an attorney to seek out YOUR best interests (and they legally have to do this), you also want a lawyer who is advocating for a happy marriage at the same time. When you are getting a prenup, you’re working towards a marriage, not a divorce. That’s why hiring a lawyer with a marriage-advocate attitude is a good idea.
What do prenuptial agreement attorneys in Wilmington do?
Whether you live in Wilmington or Charlotte, a North Carolina prenuptial agreement attorney will do the same thing. The substantive law is the same across the entire state. Here are some of the things you can expect from your prenup attorney:
A prenuptial agreement lawyer will consult with you on the timeline, cost, and logistics of getting a prenup. An initial consultation is generally free of charge, but some attorneys may charge you a flat rate for this.
- Q&A + legal advice
Before drafting the prenup, your lawyer will sit down with you and ask you a bunch of questions, including asking you about your financial details. At this time, you may also ask questions and receive legal advice. For example, the lawyer may recommend adding a sunset clause to your prenup and advise you on how this works and why you should include one. You may ask questions about the sunset clause to help make your decision.
- Drafting the prenup
Once the attorney has everything they need to draft up your prenup, they will get to work. The prenuptial agreement will include clauses custom to your situation and will be based on your conversation with your attorney. It should incorporate whatever goals you described to them. Typically, prenuptial agreement attorneys work off of prenup templates and customize them to your needs by adding and editing clauses.
- More Q&A
After the prenup has been drafted, the attorney may present it to you and explain it. You can, in turn, ask questions about the different clauses and their implications.
Once you’re satisfied with the agreement, it will be sent over to your partner and their attorney. They will likely have counters to the agreement and your attorneys will then go through negotiations.
- Review and finalization
Once negotiations are complete, you and your attorney may review it one last time for any last-minute changes and then move on to finalization. Finalization may include signing it in front of a notary, although that is not technically required under North Carolina law, some lawyers still recommend this for an extra layer of protection.
The average cost of a prenuptial agreement attorney in Wilmington
We’ll cut to the chase: prenups ain’t cheap. The nationwide average cost of a prenuptial agreement is $2,500, but it can climb up to $10,000 or more, depending on your location and needs.
What is the average cost for a prenup in Wilmington, North Carolina? Well, this depends. Some lawyers charge flat rates and others charge hourly. The average hourly cost of a lawyer in North Carolina is $262. If your prenup takes 10 hours from start to finish (1 hour consultation, 6 hours drafting, 2 hours negotiating, and 1-hour review) then you are looking at about $2,620 for a prenup. Wilmington’s cost of living is 4% lower than the national average, so you may get lucky with a lower cost for a prenuptial agreement.
Your prenup cost can also vary based on your specific situation. If you have complex finances it could take much longer for a lawyer to sift through your financial documents. For example, owning one house versus owning a real estate portfolio with 50 different properties.
Your cost can also increase if you have intricate requests for your prenup and would cause your attorney to do legal research (which results in more attorney hours).
Another way to rack up the bill is with lengthy negotiations. If you and your partner are struggling to come to terms, this can add many hours to your attorney bill.
If you take the steps we laid out above, you should find yourself a rock-solid prenuptial agreement attorney in Wilmington. Remember to look for someone who has lots of experience, only practices prenups, has a background in mediation and is an advocate for your marriage. Lucky for you, the average cost for a Wilmington prenup attorney is likely to be a touch lower than the national average (woo-hoo!). Now get out there and go find yourself a prenup lawyer!
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]