The duties of a prenuptial lawyer generally involve negotiating contracts between two people prior to their marriage. These agreements outline conditions of marriage and divorce. Generally, the purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to protect the assets of both parties against divisions of property or settlements that could occur in the event of a divorce or separation. Matrimonial contracts have been used for centuries to help protect assets and wealth.
Though it is possible to draw up a marriage contract without the use of a prenuptial lawyer, few people have a thorough enough understanding of matrimonial law. The time it would take to become familiar with these laws generally makes it impractical for most people to attempt the process on their own. A prenuptial lawyer is usually well-equipped to offer expert advice concerning these matters.
It is generally recommended that if a prenuptial agreement is proposed, both parties to the marriage should retain their own attorneys. Some people make the mistake of believing that one attorney is acting on behalf of both parties, but most ethics laws make that impossible. Attorneys would generally be in a position of conflict of interest if they attempted to represent both parties. In addition, in some jurisdictions, prenuptial agreements are not considered legally binding unless each party had its own prenuptial lawyer.
Before hiring a prenuptial lawyer, both parties should first discuss what they consider important considerations. This will usually make negotiations move ahead more rapidly, and since most attorneys charge an hourly fee, parties who already have a clearly defined plan will likely save money in legal fees. Though it may be uncomfortable, it is probably important that a frank and honest discussion take place in advance of hiring attorneys.
Most experts agree that one of the most important ingredients to a legally binding prenuptial agreement is honest disclosure of assets. If a matrimonial contract eventually becomes challenged in court, failure to disclose assets by either party can often invalidate the entire agreement. In addition, it is probably best if the agreement is signed well in advance of the wedding. Some judges may view last-minute agreements as being signed under duress, another reason for possibly invalidating the contract.
Before hiring a prenuptial lawyer, it is a good idea to be sure he or she has experience in the area of matrimonial law. Though most any attorney would be qualified in a legal sense, an experienced prenuptial lawyer will probably be able to offer better counsel than an attorney who specializes in another area. Most of the time, attorneys who specialize in divorce also have experience dealing with prenuptial agreements.