Premarital legal counseling is a kind of therapy that’s aimed at ensuring you and your partner have a long and satisfying marriage. During premarital counseling, you and your partner may come across particular roadblocks that might lead to divorce.
Many churches offer premarital therapy; premarital therapy is usually mediated by a trained marriage and family therapist approved by the American Association for Family and Marriage Therapy.
Prenuptial Agreements and Premarital Counseling
Sometimes, however, premarital legal counseling could involve looking at the couple’s finances and reasons for pursuing a prenuptial agreement.
Recent surveys from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that over sixty percent of divorce lawyers saw an uptick in prenuptial agreements over the last three years.
In addition, this same group of divorce lawyers said that women are disproportionately the ones filing for a prenuptial agreement. This, obviously, jars with the popular conception of the man in the house being the sole breadwinner and filing a prenuptial agreement to protect his assets.
Issues Tackled in Premarital Counseling
Premarital counseling’s main goal is to have couples discuss their social, emotional and financial expectations for the upcoming marriage, and work out any problems related to those areas. If the couple can’t agree on the financial role for each party before the marriage, then a prenuptial agreement might be an appropriate topic to bring up in premarital counseling.
Generally speaking a prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that couples enter into before a marriage or civil union. A prenuptial agreement mainly covers issues like spousal support and division of property should a divorce or breakup result from the marriage or civil union. A premarital agreement covers eventualities like who will own what following the death of one spouse or a divorce. With a premarital counselor, you can work through which property is yours alone and which pieces of property you expect to be jointly owned by both spouses.
Although this would technically be outside the purview of premarital counseling, a postmarital agreement could be entered into after the marriage to settle many of the same issues (e.g., division of property) following a possible divorce. In addition, you would want a divorce lawyer rather than a premarital counselor to oversee a separation agreement, which is alternatively called a property settlement agreement.
Legal Issues to Address in Premarital Counseling
Present and future property as well as personal income are all fair game when it comes to the areas divorce lawyers can help mediate in a prenuptial agreement. The legal right to sell or lease property, mortgages and marriage dissolutions can also be discussed before the marriage with a premarital counselor or with a divorce lawyer, granted a premarital agreement is something that both future spouses want to pursue.
A premarital agreement is effectuated only after the couple officially ties the knot. A premarital agreement can be changed or revoked granted that each party is willing to sign a document disavowing the standing premarital agreement. Also, it’s usually wise to sign a premarital agreement no later than a month before the marriage takes place. If a premarital agreement is rushed and signed 30 days or fewer before the marriage happens, issues like duress or coercion can enter the picture and make the premarital agreement more contestable in court.
Both a premarital counselor and divorce lawyer can help you and your spouse establish long and near-term financial goals and marriage expectations. You can discuss the disposition of property and even alimony with a premarital counselor or experienced divorce lawyer. Prenuptial agreements are very binding in California, especially with respect to shared property and alimony.