Wedding Checklist: Prenup and Premarital Counseling

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Wednesday, April 1, 2015.

Before every wedding, you are surrounded by parents, friends, florists and caterers. You’re caught up in the excitement. This leads many to mistake the wedding as the end of the process when it’s really the start. A prenup can help.

As the New York Times recently reported:

“Marriage can be a minefield that blows up without the proper navigation these days,” said Debbie Martinez, a Miami relationship coach. That is why some couples are taking pre-marital counseling sessions to refocus their attention on each other and the lives they will lead together.

Unlike the marriage counseling people do years after a wedding, premarital counseling addresses unrealistic expectations of “happy, roses and rainbows,” said Jocelyn W. Charnas, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan who counsels engaged couples.

“The fundamental point about premarital counseling is to lay a foundation for empathy, communication and partnership,” Dr. Charnas said. This is especially true, he said: “for those couples in their 20s and 30s with good jobs and money saved. They view marriage as the capstone moment. They have arrived.”

Premarital counseling can serve a similar purpose as prenuptial agreements. I’ve written about pre-wedding preparation before, especially the importance of prenuptial agreements.

A prenup can help with the following:

Keeps Your Non-Marital Property Non-Marital. The property you brought into the marriage is yours. But over time it is common for people to start mixing things up. If you put it in writing, you can avoid this problem down the road.

You Can Change the Law. Right now in Florida, there is an ongoing legislation about alimony. Through an agreement you can modify Florida’s legal standards for awarding alimony.

Avoid Expensive Endings. A prenuptial agreement can simplify things by resolving issues ahead of time, way before death or divorce occurs. Once you have entered an agreement, everything should become cheaper.

Protect Your Children’s Inheritance. An agreement helps assure your children that any inheritance is protected, and they don’t need to resent the new spouse.

Citing the findings of a National Marriage Project, Mr. Wilcox said, “Couples who do premarital counseling fare better.” When two people love each other, it is hard to talk about kids, finances and other difficult subjects.

Some have other names for what can occur after the wedding cake is cut and the presents opened: the “post-wedding blues” or “crash.” It is a common phenomenon that typically occurs as life returns to normal in the days and weeks that follow the wedding and the couple ceases to be the center of everyone’s attention.

Voicing these concerns and strategizing about how to manage them can be tremendously helpful.”

The New York Times article can be read here.