If you are reading this article, you may be recently engaged, so congrats! Next on the to-do list is to get a prenup, but do we really need one? Is it possible to do a prenup without a lawyer? Short answer: yes, it is possible to do a prenup without a lawyer. HelloPrenup is an excellent option for obtaining a prenup without an attorney or for creating a prenup collaboratively first and then obtaining an attorney. Keep reading to learn all about prenups sans lawyers.
Options for getting a prenup without a lawyer
The first and (in our opinion, the best) way to get a prenup without a lawyer is to utilize the HelloPrenup platform. HelloPrenup was created by an experienced divorce attorney and reviewed by other family law attorneys across the country. HelloPrenup puts the power back into your hands and lets you steer the ship. And it’s from the comfort of your own home, no less! How can you beat that? PJs, wine, and prenup time, anyone?
So, how does it work? HelloPrenup is an interactive platform that allows both you and your partner to select your terms for a prenuptial agreement. The platform will walk you both (separately) through a questionnaire that helps tailor the prenup to your needs. After completing the questionnaire, there will be a negotiation phase where the platform will point out any discrepancies between you and your partners’ answers. For example, if one partner says they do not want either party to pay alimony (i.e., spousal support or maintenance), but the other partner does want to include alimony, then you two will need to come to an agreement. Next up: signatures and notaries. And, yes, even notarization can be done on the couch these days. Notarize.com is an excellent tool that utilizes video chat to get the job done.
With HelloPrenup, you can have a prenup done within an hour and a half for only $599 per couple. Now that’s what we call living in the future!
Do it yourself
We don’t recommend this option. But it is an option nonetheless. Many states do not require you to hire an attorney to draft your prenup, but that doesn’t mean that you will create a valid prenup. So, yes, you can create a prenup yourself, but you run the (very high) risk of it being thrown out in court because you didn’t understand the law. And, unless you are a prenup lawyer yourself, you probably won’t do a great job drafting the contract. There is a multitude of ways you can derail your prenup, from not notarizing it to putting in unconscionable clauses to missing basic contract principles. Much of this also depends on your state’s specific laws, and no two states are exactly the same. There’s a reason lawyers and the makers of HelloPrenup spent countless hours studying the law; it ain’t easy!
Pros of using a lawyer for your prenup
Let’s first start off with the pros of hiring a prenup attorney and then look at the cons.
Peace of mind knowing you have a valid prenup
The number one pro of hiring an attorney to draft your prenup is the peace of mind that you will have, knowing your prenup is much more likely to be enforceable than if you had done it yourself. All prenups are not created equal. There are certain state requirements that every prenup must follow in order to actually be enforced in a court of law. If those requirements are not met, then your prenup will meet the trash can.
Lawyers specializing in family law and prenuptial agreements know what they’re doing. Family law lawyers not only go to law school for three years and take the rigorous state bar exam, but they also have experience in family law and have likely done many prenups before yours. What, like it’s hard?
Understanding how the law works
As we said, prenup lawyers, know how this thing goes. They’ve done the prenups, they’ve gone to court for divorces, and they’ve seen prenups in action. They can teach you about the law. Why should you care about how the law works? Well, you don’t need to get your JD here, but it’s a good idea to understand the general scope of your state’s divorce laws. To create the most effective prenup for your specific needs, you should know what would happen in the event of a divorce. For example, property division laws vary from state to state. How does your state handle these things? Knowing this information can help you make informed decisions on what goes into your prenup.
Knowing all of your options
With a lawyer, you will learn all of the options that you can possibly choose from. For example, how can you add an enforceable alimony clause? Do you want to add a sunset clause? Have any pets? Then, what about pet clauses? Have any inheritances coming your way in the next few years? You may want to protect that! What about those credit card points you’ve been racking up for years? It’s all fair game. Your lawyer will definitely point out things you would have never even thought of had you done the prenup yourself. This can help create an ironclad prenup that makes you and your partner feel supported.
Have an advisor who has been there, done that
Lastly, a prenup lawyer has seen it all. They have had many, many couples walk in and out of their office over the years. You could even go as far as to call them a connoisseur of love. Okay, maybe not, but you catch the drift. They see what happens if things go south, as their clients are likely to give them a ring when divorce is on the horizon. With all of this being said, if you are unsure of certain decisions you need to make regarding your prenup, you can ask your attorney for their advice. They have been there, done that. They have seen the outcome of choosing to include that one thing. They know what generally happens when couples decide not to do that other thing. They can give you good advice. And, if you have a good attorney, they will do this all with a dose of compassion and empathy.
Cons of using a lawyer for your prenup
Of course, the dreaded legal bill. According to SmartAsset.com, a prenup can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on your case. Remember, attorneys usually bill by the hour, and their hourly rates can be as high as $1,000 per hour, depending on the location, experience, and skill level. Hypothetically, one 40-minute phone call could get you on the hook for a $1,000 bill. Yikes!
If that sounds awful to you, here’s a quick reminder that HelloPrenup is a one-time cost of $599 per couple. Or about $300 per person if guys are splitting the bill. You can and should still consider hiring a lawyer to review your draft, advice, or representation. The good news is you will be spending much less because you will have already negotiated the base draft.
Awkward and uncomfortable
For starters, not every attorney is going to give you happy, fuzzy feelings when you leave their office. Maybe it’s harsh lighting, or maybe it’s the bland office colors, either way, it may not be Disneyworld going in for your attorney consultation. On top of the uncomfortable office experience, you will have to divulge very personal details to your attorney. You will need to discuss every last penny that you have, warts and all, with this person who is not your family. You will also need to discuss what your future goals are for your life. This doesn’t come easy to everyone. Heck, we’ve seen the TikToks, and we know Millennials and Gen Zs don’t even pick up regular phone calls anymore to avoid awkward social interactions. So, we can imagine the experience of diving deep into personal issues with an attorney might be less than desirable for some folks.
As we said, HelloPrenup can take as little as 1.5 hours from start to finish. On the flip side, if you hire an attorney, your initial consultation might take just as long! Then, there’s still the financial disclosure, contract drafting, follow-up questions, and negotiations. We’re likely looking at a much longer time frame than 1.5 hours when you hire an attorney. Of course, every case is different, but some attorneys say drafting a prenup from start to finish can take two to three weeks or more. No, thank you!
Just a reminder- if you are looking for legal advice, representation, or just an attorney to chat with, you should contact a licensed attorney in your state.
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]