Are you working on your wedding checklist? I suggest you add premarital mediation to the top of that list!
It is not uncommon for prenuptial agreement planning to be added to wedding plans. If you find yourself getting married later in life or entering into a second marriage, this could bring in premarital accumulated assets and debts which should be addressed before you say I DO.
Premarital mediation is a friendlier approach to the uncomfortable topics faced by engaged couples. Mediation allows each partner to discuss issues which may need an agreement they both believe would be fair before walking down the aisle. More so, mediation allows couples a caucus to develop their communication skills, which is a benefit in all marriages.
Reasons to consider premarital mediation:
Premarital Assets and Debts
The parties will exchange comprehensive lists of assets and debts held in individual names before marriage. Not only is this form required for a prenuptial agreement, but it promotes couples to be straightforward about financial issues before legal commitments.
Marital property consists of assets and debts that couples accumulate together after they are married. Premarital mediation will give you an opportunity to address how marital income and assets will be distributed in the event of a divorce.
Management of Assets and Income
It is common that relationships involve two typical personalities - spenders and savers. Opposites tend to attract each other and compliment each other so it’s typical for couples to have different financial lifestyles. This can cause friction in a marriage if you do not communicate about the other’s priorities and goals before marriage. To find harmony in your financial lifestyle, you should plan for how monies will be handled during the marriage. Will you co-mingle your incomes in joint accounts? Will you equally share marital debts or each pay toward marital debts in another manner?
Credit and Debt
Have you shared credit reports with each other? Now is the best time to have a serious talk about credit scores and priorities with respect to paying off old debt or accumulating new debt. If either party owes back taxes, this would be the time to disclose those debts.
Work and Income
It is important for you both to discuss your expectations about employment and income coming into the marriage. If a career change is on the horizon, preplan for the impact that could have on a new marriage. If you plan to have children, it would be beneficial to discuss your expectations of the parenting responsibilities.
Spousal Support and/or Alimony
A touchy subject before marriage is talking about the possibility of divorce, but it is a necessary topic of discussion. If your marriage results in divorce, child support may be paid by one party to the other. Spousal support is also a good topic to address at least in a generalized capacity. Couples don’t have to address these subjects in their prenuptial agreement, but it makes sense to talk about it.
Gifts from Families
Sometimes one set of parents or relatives gifts or loans funds to the newlywed couple. It is important to make clear what kind of gift/loan this will be.
Once a couple is married, their finances will be intertwined for tax purposes unless they agree otherwise as part of their premarital agreement. It is important to be clear on how marital taxes (separate or joint) are to be handled.
Sometimes one spouse needs to return to school. This situation may leave only one income while the other pursues a higher education. In this situation, it is important for the couple to communicate clearly with each other the expectations of each party.
Duration of the Premarital Agreement
It is up to the couple to decide how long a premarital agreement may remain effective. Couples should discuss if the agreement will stand forever or if it will expire at some point.
If one or both spouses own a premarital business, there are special issues they should consider and set out in writing to protect not only the couple but the business as well.