Divorce mediation is widely considered a less expensive, time-consuming and combative way of ending a marriage than a litigated divorce. However, mediation is also increasingly being used by couples going into marriage to negotiate their prenuptial agreement.
For people who dread the idea of bringing up the prospect of a prenup with their partner, but feel that they need one to protect their assets, a mediated prenup can help partners who have less money than their spouses-to-be feel that they have an equal say in the agreements.
Prenups Are Traditionally Designed to Protect Wealthier Spouse
Generally, in a traditional prenup process, the attorney for the partner with more money presents a draft of an agreement that the other partner's attorney reviews. Because that attorney is understandably looking out for his or her client's welfare, that draft will often benefit that person.
Often, that first draft is influenced by parents or other family members of the partner with more money in an effort to protect inheritances, a family business or other assets. If a person is going into a second or subsequent marriage, there may be children, grandchildren and/or ex-spouses that need to be provided for.
A prenup that is drafted with the purpose of protecting the spouse with more money can start the marriage off on the wrong track before it has begun. Even though the less-moneyed spouse should have an attorney advocating for his or her rights, that spouse can feel disadvantaged from the beginning.
A Mediated Prenup Can Help Both Spouses Feel Fairly Treated
By drawing up a prenup via mediation, partners can communicate one-on-one in a non-confrontational setting and work together to resolve differences. The mediator, who is there to offer unbiased guidance, can help them do this in a productive, rational manner. He or she can also offer additional options that can help couples arrive at mutually-agreeable resolutions.
When both spouses-to-be can communicate directly with each other about what they want and need rather than just pass a legal document back and forth between attorneys, they're more likely to act from a place of generosity rather than anger and fear. This can have a significant impact on the health of their relationship as they embark on marriage.
Of course, as with divorce mediation, both people should have their own family law attorneys advising them to ensure that they aren't being unfairly persuaded by their partner. Ideally, partners, with the guidance of their attorneys and an experienced mediator, will feel that they have a prenup that is fair to both of them.
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