A Strong Prenuptial Agreement + Collaboration
After 13 years of marriage, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen filed for divorce at the end of October. It seemed like as soon as the announcement of their split went public, the divorce was already complete. How did this wealthy couple finalize a divorce settlement so quickly? A few important factors allowed Tom and Gisele to reach an agreement quickly, including participating in mediation before even filing, remaining amicable, and, most importantly, having what many call an “ironclad” prenuptial agreement. By signing a well-written prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage in 2009, they removed any question about division of assets. This was particularly important to them as a high profile couple, and the fact that they’re worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, prenuptial agreements aren’t only for celebrities and moguls. In fact, even for the average person, there are many benefits to having one in place before wedding vows take place. When a strong prenuptial agreement is in place, and partners choose collaborative divorce, it can be quite beneficial to the couple, especially if there are children involved. When both parties keep civility at the foundation of their split, all who are involved win.
In order to understand the benefits of collaboration, we need to examine how the prenuptial process typically goes. When a couple decides to write up an agreement, they are about to be married. They’re happy, in love, and optimistic about the future. This is simply a formality in place to protect their assets.
Lawyers, however, are hard-wired to fight for the best outcome for their clients. Therefore, they will prepare an agreement using language that protects their client without much consideration for the spouse. This agreement can come off as one-sided and could upset the spouse, creating an issue that was never there in the first place. The spouse’s lawyer will then begin the process of offering proposals and counter-proposals to reach a middle ground. So in the middle of wedding preparations, this process can be upsetting, and in some cases, even postpone or derail the nuptials.
There is a litigation process driven by the court during the traditional divorce process. The concept is one we’re familiar with and have seen played out. Spouses are shielded from one another, and they do not need to communicate. This process often incurs significant emotional and financial costs. With two attorneys involved, there is inevitable back and forth, which might prove time-consuming and expensive–all this to avoid a couple communicating with one another directly. Also, decisions left to the court are not necessarily the best or most appropriate for the couple or family. Every circumstance is unique, and it’s understandably difficult for a court to grasp the full scope of each situation.
Divorce is tough but legal and custody battles can be even tougher when done traditionally. Many A-listers, including Brad Pitt, Britney Spears, Madonna, and Tom Cruise, have found themselves in pretty messy divorces. Could time, expense, and heartache have been avoided?
Collaborative Model Benefits
There are numerous benefits to using the collaborative divorce model. First of all, the parties involved are in the driver’s seat. If spouses can agree on collaboration, they are more willing to be respectful and communicate directly in order to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Collaboration is desired because the focus is on keeping children as unaffected as possible. Collaborative attorneys specialize in conflict resolution and identifying common ground. The goal here is to avoid arguments in favor of goal setting and generating creative solutions. This process is geared toward negotiation without the fear of one judge determining everyone’s fate. Using our example of Tom and Gisele, they could deal with custody issues without a long battle because they remained amicable and engaged in the mediation process. Collaborative divorce is usually less expensive and much quicker than the traditional approach. The result? Less stress and a more positive outcome for all parties. *
Collaboration in Prenuptial Negotiations
When prenuptial negotiations are approached from the collaborative model, the result is a more peaceful and civilized process. Collaborative attorneys will bring issues to the surface that might be difficult to talk about, but since all parties are present, there is no him vs. her. During this process, each attorney’s goal is to protect their client’s interests during negotiation. However, from the beginning, there is an understanding that everyone is working to find solutions that don’t feel one-sided. The idea is that both clients feel heard, and the end result is a prenuptial agreement both parties can live with, should a split happen down the line. Remember that even if you’re not an A-lister or multi-millionaire, you cannot predict what kind of wealth one party may accumulate in the future, making agreements important, regardless of your current financial status.
Keeping Children at the Foundation
Even before a couple gets married or decides to have children, putting a strong prenuptial agreement in place can save time, money, and stress in the future. If a couple has plans to have a family one day, those children will be at the front of their minds and the most important consideration in their decisions. For example, the former NFL player and Brazilian businesswoman will share custody of their children, making the process as seamless as possible for them.
If this agreement is in place and a couple does decide to dissolve their marriage, collaborative divorce is the best solution, as long as both parties can agree to remain uncontentious and focus on what’s best for their family. If they have this mutual goal, then there’s no reason the divorce process shouldn’t run smoothly. It’s easier said than done, but keeping children at the front of their minds will allow both parties to make decisions with empathetic conversation rather than adversarial conflict.
If you’d like a more detailed description of prenuptial agreements or the collaborative divorce process, including mediation, you can check out Cindy Campbell’s new book, “Legal Things Parents Should Know”. And if you’re thinking about creating a prenuptial agreement or considering a divorce or mediation and need help navigating the process, don’t hesitate to reach out also by calling or emailing us at 866-566-9494 or Assistant@clcounsel.com.
*Please note collaborative divorce or mediation may be inappropriate in cases where there are certain levels of domestic violence or child safety issues.
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