For most couples who are planning their weddings, there are lots of things to get excited about. Sampling cake flavors, selecting the location, and getting friends involved are usually aspects that most brides and grooms-to-be look forward to. Stressful? Definitely. But also lots of fun!
Figuring out how to address the issue of a prenuptial agreement, however, is rarely a good time for anyone. It can be an uncomfortable subject to raise, and for some couples, even harder to go through with. So what can be done to make this difficult step in the process a little easier on everyone?
The answer for many couples, is premarital mediation. A surprising number of couples have discovered that pre-marital mediation offers a more low-key alternative approach to a subject that is often touchy. So what exactly is premarital mediation, and how does it differ from a premarital agreement?
The simplest way to describe it, is as a discussion held between the couple, which is facilitated by a mediator. During this discussion, the bride and groom-to-be address all of the many financial issues that may come up along the way. Subjects like “what happens if this relationship doesn’t work out the way we hope it will?” and “Am I going to have to pay for your credit card debt if we get divorced?”
These aren’t fun subjects. Most couples on the cusp of their weddings don’t want to plan for their possible divorces. However, by talking about these issues in a more informal setting, couples are able to address difficult issues more easily. They also have the opportunity to decide for themselves what they think is fair for their financial future, should their marriage end. Here in Oakland County, and indeed all over Michigan, couples are opting for pre-marital mediation.
The mediator asks questions and prompts dialogue, getting the couple talking about a host of different subjects. This also has the side benefit of providing couples with a chance to learn new communication skills, which always benefits a marriage. It also prompts couples to embrace discussions about subjects that they don’t enjoy, but are necessary for their future.
Among the subjects discussed, are concerns about differing spending styles, opinions about property divisions, spousal support in the event of a divorce, and accumulated debt. The couple decides how they intend to address each one of these issues, should their marriage not survive. At the end of the discussion, a premarital agreement is drafted.
Premarital mediation helps a couple to prepare for all eventualities.
The rough draft is then submitted to each of their respective attorneys. This is another reason why more and more people are electing to go this route instead of the more traditional method – the time spent with an attorney is considerably reduced, which in turn greatly reduces the cost involved. Contested divorce cases in Oakland County and all over Metro Detroit can get pretty expensive.
Another benefit is the fact that the decisions were reached by the couple working together, instead of against each other. During divorce, each person and their attorney is involved in what often feels like an “us vs. them” scenario.
Finally, we caution everyone that prenuptial agreements are in a state of limbo in Michigan. Important appellate decisions have held that courts cannot and should not blindly enforce these agreements. The most recent decisions require the family court judge to determine whether the agreement is fair to both parties rather than simply enforcing the prenuptial agreement simply because the spouses agreed to certain terms before they married.
If you and your spouse have any questions about prenuptial agreements, please contact The Kronzek Firm in our Farmington Hills office at (248) 479-6200. We would be happy to help you address any and every aspect of your prenuptial agreement, and advise you on how to prepare for possible problems. If however, your marriage didn’t work out as planned, and you and your spouse are considering divorce, we can help you with that as well. We’ve handled hundreds of divorce cases over the decades.