What are the steps to getting a prenup?

Updated: Jan 14

Considering purchasing a prenup but not sure what to expect? Here’s is a quick overview of a typical prenup process.

Discuss with Your Partner

Because a prenup is a contract between you and your partner, it only makes sense that the first step is an honest discussion regarding what the two of you think would be fair during a divorce. You’ll need your partner to sign the prenup, so hiding the ball on what will be in the prenup isn’t a smart play, and if you are feeling the temptation to sneak in terms into the prenup, then maybe you shouldn’t be getting married to this person. Wanting to deceive a partner is a red flag. Thankfully, for most people, deception isn’t an issue.

When you sit down to talk with your partner, answer the following questions:

  • Do we plan to have kids?

  • Will one of us stay home full-time with the kids?

  • Do we think that kind of sacrifice should be compensated if divorce happened? What should that compensation look like?

  • Do we want to keep alimony as an option? If so, do we want to limit alimony in any way? What way?

  • While married, do we want to have joint accounts or separate accounts? Why?

  • If divorced, what’s a fair way to split joint property, joint accounts, individually owned property, individually controlled accounts?

  • What should happen to the house we will own at the time of divorce? Who should keep it? How should profits be split? What’s fair? What about other properties?

  • Which financial and procedural details do we want to agree on today and which details do we want to leave for a later date?

  • How much risk are we comfortable with taking during a divorce?

  • Do we want to first attempt a peaceful separation through mediation or a collaborative process before either one goes to a judge for a divorce?

  • What has been our experience with divorce (parents’ divorce, siblings’ divorce, friends’ divorce, own previous divorce)? What about that experience did we hate and thought was unfair? What from these experiences would we like to avoid in our own divorce?

  • Do we want to change the rules of inheritance?

And so on.

Reaching an agreement with your partner before involving any lawyers is the best way to ensure that the prenup won’t cost you an arm and a leg and will not cause problems in your relationship.

Hire a Lawyer

Once you’ve had the discussion, you should find a lawyer to prepare the prenup. While you can find a templet online, it is a safer bet to hire a lawyer because templets might not offer you all of the options and flexibility that your agreement requires and it’s quite possible that the way the templet is written could result in the prenup being invalidated in the future.

When choosing a lawyer, pick someone who is not pushy. Some lawyers have a tendency of forcing what they think is fair on their clients, resulting in a prenup that does not reflect the agreement you reached with your partner. A lawyer should give you advice on whether your agreement could be detrimental to you and deprive you of some of your rights and privileges, but a lawyer should not bully you into an agreement that you do not want. It’s your life, not the lawyer’s.

Be weary of lawyers who can’t quote you a price. If you and your partner have reached an agreement, a lawyer should be able to quote you a price. Be weary of lawyers who can’t quote you a deadline by when they’ll have a prenup prepared. Prenups that get signed last minute right before a wedding have a higher risk of getting tossed out by a judge during a divorce. A lawyer who is so busy that they can't quote you a deadline will likely just send you an unmodified templet that will fail to adequately take into account the agreement you reached with your partner.

Once you’ve found and hired a lawyer that you like, be sure to communicate your prenup goals and agreement. The lawyer will use that information, along with financial information that you provide about you and your partner to prepare the prenup. Expect the lawyer to ask additional questions or bring up options that you might not have considered. Be open to new ideas, but do not allow the lawyer to pressure you into something that does not align with your prenup goals.

When the prenup is completed, ask the lawyer to walk you through the prenup term by term, explaining the legal jargon and giving you examples of how the terms would play out in different scenarios. Ask lots of questions. Make sure you understand the prenup. If the lawyer cannot explain the prenup to you in detail, then ask for your money back and hire someone new. A prenup that can’t be explained by a lawyer who drafted it is a prenup you do not want to be signing.

If you are satisfied with the prenup you received, then give a copy to your partner.

Give Your Partner Time to Speak with a Lawyer

By law, your partner must have an opportunity to consult with a lawyer before singing a prenup. Your partner is not required to hire a lawyer. There is no minimum amount of time that must pass before you give the prenup and the prenup is signed.

While your partner is not required to hire a lawyer, hiring one will make it more likely that a judge will not toss out the prenup in the future. Another benefit of your partner hiring a lawyer to review and explain the prenup is to ensure that the prenup does accurately reflect the agreement you and your partner reached.

Once again, be weary of pushy lawyers. A great lawyer will explain the risks and benefits of the proposed prenup, advising your partner on the consequences of signing the prenup, and maybe even advising your partner not to sign the agreement at all, but at the end of the day a great lawyer will also respect the agreement you and your partner reached and will not shove terms into a prenup that your partner does not want.

Sign the Prenup

Once you and your partner are satisfied that the prenup properly reflects your agreement and goals, you will need to sign the prenup in front of 2 witnesses and a notary public. Anyone over 18 can be a witness. You do not need to sign the prenup at the lawyer’s office. The witnesses do not need to be provided by the lawyer. The lawyer does not need to be the notary. It may be convenient, but you are not obligated to sign the prenup before the lawyers.

After signing and notarizing the prenup, make digital copies of the agreement and store the original somewhere where you can find it in the future. You don’t need to file the document with the court.

And just like that, you are done!

Want to buy a prenup? Consider hiring us. We charge $2000 to prepare a prenup or $1000 to review one. We prepare your prenup within 3 days of payment. We always explain the prenup term-by-term and never push you to sign something that you don't want.