Family lawyers can offer valuable prenup advice

Date: May 09, 2011

A family lawyer can advise on important issues regarding a prenuptial agreement - including how far in advance of the wedding the document needs to be signed.

Responding to a reader query in the News Observer, certified financial planner Holly Nicholson advised seeking help from a family law specialist if you are not sure of how best to proceed.

 Ms Nicholson added that when a couple opts to have a prenup drawn up ahead of their big day, it is important that both parties review the document with individual lawyers before signing it.

There are a number of common situations in which a prenuptial agreement may be advisable, she explained. These include circumstances where one partner owns their own business, one person has significantly higher earnings, one partner carries a high amount of debt, support obligations are in place from a previous relationship or one party brings more wealth into the partnership.

It may also be wise to have a prenup drawn up if you have family heirlooms that you would want to leave to someone other than your spouse, she commented.

Couples should ensure they speak frankly and openly about money issues before they head down the aisle, Ms Nicholson emphasised, regardless of whether they decided to have a prenuptial agreement in place.

In the event of a break-up, she commented that a "well-drafted" agreement could help the pair avoid a lengthy battle in court, which can be "emotionally and financially draining".

Ms Nicholson advised: "You should discuss each other's spending and savings habits, credit scores, debts (including student loans), how the debts were accumulated and the debt repayment plan."

Newly-engaged Paul McCartney has reportedly not drawn up a prenuptial agreement with his fiancee Nancy Shevell - although the pair will sign a one-page legal document to protect the trust funds of the Beatle's children and grandchildren.

McCartney and his second wife, Heather Mills, divorced in 2008. The pair did not have a prenuptial agreement and he paid Mills upwards of £24 million after a much-publicised battle in a London court.