When searching for the best prenup lawyer, all attorneys are not created equal.
Below, I’ll explore three indicators of a great prenup attorney and three red flags to watch out for.
But first, let’s understand the differences among various types of family law attorneys.
Types of Family Law Attorneys
Family law is an umbrella term encompassing various legal issues relating to the family. A family law attorney may specialize in several practices, including financial issues, child custody, divorce, adoption, paternity, and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
More importantly, some family law attorneys focus their practice on litigation, going to court, and zealously advocating for their clients in highly contested divorces.
On the other hand, other family law attorneys focus on mediation, collaboration, and working with the other side to arrive at mutually beneficial agreements.
General Attorney vs Family Law Attorney
There are also many attorneys that practice family law among other areas of law, including, personal injury, bankruptcy, employment, real estate, immigration and estate planning.
This means that they do not practice family law on a regular basis, and only have a minimal understanding of the intricacies of family law. Compare this to a focused family law attorney who practices and specializes in only family law.
Divorce Attorney vs Prenup Attorney
Further, some family law attorneys are generalized, while others make one or more areas of family law their specialty. And just because someone is trained in family law doesn’t mean they specialize in prenups.
A “divorce lawyer” is often used interchangeably with a “family law attorney”, but really these are family law attorneys that have made divorce cases one of their main areas of focus. Similarly, a prenup attorney is a family law attorney who specializes in crafting prenuptial agreements. An exceptional prenuptial attorney touts prenuptial agreements as one of their prime focuses of practice.
Benefits of a Prenuptial Lawyer
The significant benefit of hiring a prenup lawyer is working with a trained and experienced family law professional who not only knows the ins and outs of family law and the prenup process, but will also work collaboratively to jumpstart your marriage successfully.
A great prenup lawyer will guide you on what to include in your prenuptial agreement and how to tailor it to your relationship, and also advise you against clauses or language that could backfire or invalidate your prenup.
Additionally, a prenuptial agreement attorney can provide a full menu of legal services and help navigate complicated legal jargon. Rather than figuring everything out for yourself, your prenup lawyer does most of the heavy lifting.
Prenups are formal legal documents that require care and attention. While it’s true that you can write one yourself, or hire a non-family law attorney to draft the agreement for a cheap price, a prenup lawyer ensures that you create a prenuptial agreement to the highest legal standard that inspires confidence and trust in your relationship.
What To Look For When Hiring a Prenup Lawyer
Selecting the right one for you and your partner may feel overwhelming. It’s a personal choice, but a few indicators set some attorneys apart.
Look for these three green flags when shopping for a prenup lawyer:
1. Experience with Prenuptial Agreements
It may seem obvious now, but it bears repeating: experience and background are crucial.
The best way to guarantee a legally sound prenup that meets the needs of your relationship is to consult with an attorney with a history and focus on crafting prenuptial agreements.
It’s also critical to engage with an attorney that specializes in family law and does not practice any other areas of law. This is not the time to use your family business attorney, or an attorney that practices numerous areas of law to draft your prenup.
Don’t be afraid to ask about experience when scoping out attorneys. Ask the attorney if they specialize in family law or if they also practice other areas of law. This will give you an idea of their background and narrow the field to the most qualified person for the job.
2. Background in Mediation
An attorney with a background in mediation understands that the prenup process is not meant to be adversarial.
The entire nature of mediation is reaching mutually beneficial agreements through thoughtful discussion. Through this lens, a mediation-focused attorney is less apt to turn the prenup into a fight before you’re even married. Instead, they’ll apply the necessary care in these conversations.
Ask the potential attorney whether they have experience in mediation, or if their practice mainly handles litigated divorces. This will give you insight on how they will approach conversations with your partner’s attorney in resolving issues.
3. A Spirit of Collaboration
A top-notch prenuptial agreement lawyer views your prenup as a collaboration between two parties planning for a successful marriage. They’ll recognize that this isn’t an us vs. them situation but an opportunity to have a constructive discussion about money and family.
Red Flags To Watch For
These red flags may indicate your attorney is more obsessed with making a buck than enhancing your marriage:
1. They Go To Trial A Lot
If your lawyer’s calendar is backlogged with trial dates, and you’re having a hard time even catching them on the phone, chances are they’re a litigation attorney in fight mode. This doesn’t make them a lousy attorney, but it does make it likely they won’t have time to give you the care and attention necessary to craft a great prenup.
It also means that they will most likely handle the process like a divorce before you’re even married, make it adversarial, and push their own agenda on what they think is best for you, rather than considering what you and your partner want to achieve in your marriage together.
Plus, they’ll look to draw out the process to charge more billable hours instead of providing compassionate, efficient support during this critical time.
The bottom line here is: Why are you looking to hire a DIVORCE attorney before you get married?
2. They Tell You Not To Talk To Your Fiancé
Excellent prenup lawyers look to form a powerful bond and create trust and intimacy through prenups. So, if your attorney asks you to keep quiet with your partner or only allows you to communicate through your attorney, consider it a big red flag.
Remember, your prenup should inspire meaningful pre-marital conversations with your fiancé. That can’t happen if you approach the process separately. Worse — communicating solely through attorneys can cause miscommunication, frustration and resentment during this special time.
3. They Treat The Prenup As A Business Deal
Watch out for a pushy lawyer who’s insistent on taking the reins. These lawyers are inclined to draft a one-sided agreement just to see what the other party counters with.
They will look at this “transaction” as a negotiated business deal to try and get you the “best” outcome. However, marriage is not an adversarial process, and shouldn’t be treated like a business deal. It should be a process where both parties collaborate on terms that are not only beneficial to each of them, but also to the marriage and family as a whole.
When an attorney handles a prenuptial agreement as a business deal, it counters the spirit of collaboration, and will make the entire process feel transactional. A great prenup lawyer will know that the best prenuptial agreements are the ones where both parties, and the marriage as a whole, win.
Final Thoughts: Go With Your Gut
Practical advice aside, trusting your instincts is one of the best ways to find a great prenup attorney. If someone gives you the creeps or you hit it off from the start, those are some of the best signs of what you’re in for.
When it’s all said and done, only you and your spouse-to-be can decide which attorney is ideal for you. Just be sure this person has the best interest of your relationship at heart.
Are you in the market for a prenup lawyer? I pride myself on guiding couples in crafting prenuptial agreements they feel great about. Book a consultation call with me here.