One of the most common questions I get from someone who is interested in a prenup (also referred to as a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement) is “how long does a prenup take?” A prenup can involve a bit of research and certainly discussion to determine what the couple wants to include in one so it’s essential that you give yourself enough time to get it all completed. Additionally, here in California there are some time constraints around valid prenups.
Under California law the prenup needs to be signed before you get married and there needs to be at least seven (7) days between when the agreement is final and when you and your fiancé sign it. While that may not seem like a lot of time is needed there is much more time needed to go through the process of premarital mediation and the prenup itself.
The Premarital Mediation Process
While I’ve written many blogs over the years on premarital mediation (and I even speak on the topic often to other mediators and attorneys with the next one coming up at the Southern California Mediation Association Family Mediation Institute) in order to understand how long does a prenup take it’s helpful to better understand the premarital mediation process. The first step after a couple decides to work with us for premarital mediation is that I provide them with the financial worksheets that they’ll both need to complete as part of a full financial disclosure (one of the legal requirements for a valid prenup). Then we meet for our joint mediation meetings (usually 2-4 one-hour meetings) to discuss all the different topics that may go into the premarital agreement.
Once these items have been agreed upon then I draft the premarital agreement (which usually takes about 2-3 weeks, although can be done quicker if needed) and review with the couple before they take it to their own attorneys to review it with them, provide advice and any edits are completed. Once we have a final version of the prenup then we will wait the seven (7) days before signing the prenup. Both attorneys will also sign the agreement and then the couple will need to sign and notarize the agreement (this can be done with an in-person notary at our office or using an online notary).
Preparation is Key
When you determine that you would like to sit down with your fiancé and draft a prenup, you will need some information to do so. There is some very particular information you will need to have on-hand to complete your financial worksheets. While this may vary from client-to-client and in premarital mediation we don’t require you to provide copies of the statements you’ll need them to complete your financial worksheet and if your fiancé or their attorney does want to see any backup documentation. Here is a list of the information and statements you’ll need to to get you started:
- Last two years of tax returns
- Current paycheck stubs
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Loan statements
- Retirement or investment account statements
- List of valuable assets
If you have all of this information ready to go, your premarital mediation session will be much more productive.
The Earlier You Start the Better
While answering the question how long does a prenup take is going to be specific to each couple and situation one overarching theme is that the earlier you can start premarital mediation the better. This is because a lot of the timeline depends on how many meetings we need, how quickly you pull together all your financial documents, how quickly your attorneys review and provide edits and how quickly everything can be finalized.
Ideally if a couple came to me for premarital mediation and asked how far ahead of the wedding, they should start I would say six (6) months because that gives us the ability to move through the process at our own speed and not feel rushed at any time. However, I’d say on average most of my premarital mediation clients come to me two – three months before the wedding date and even sometimes it’s only a month before the wedding. Anyone who comes to me with less than one (1) month to go I tell them that I can’t do it and even one month can be tough and the couple and their attorneys all need to move through the process efficiently and quickly.
In situations where it’s too close to the wedding to get the prenup done I will suggest that the parties do a postnuptial agreement (also known as a postnup or postmarital agreement) instead right after the wedding so we can avoid the concerns over the timeline.
If you are getting married or thinking of getting married and interested in premarital mediation, reach out to us at West Coast Family Mediation for a free consultation.
by: Amanda Singer