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Three good reasons why every couple getting married should use mediation to create their own PMA:
1. Financial management: Identifying what the parties want to agree is community property and what will remain the separate property of either is only part of a well thought out Pre-Marital Agreement. The process is an opportunity to talk about attitudes about money, who will manage it, what things will need to be agreed upon, what are the financial goals and how do you plan to meet them. What if you want to start a family which requires one of the parties to come out of the work force in order to be available to raise children? What are the implications for the future—which include considering what happens if the parties ultimately decide to separate or divorce. How can one party allow their separate property to be used by the community without losing its separate property characterization? In other words, how can one spouse let their separate property help grow the community while still protecting the separate property interest? The answer is that there are many ways to help the community while managing and protecting the separate property interests.
2. Estate Planning: Making plans for what happens to your financial estate is one thing for a young couple starting out with little or no significant financial net worth as they embark on a shared life. It is another thing for two people who are getting married for a second time and who each has children and some assets they have accumulated which they want to use to provide a legacy for their children. A mediated conversation about the multiple options for creating a balance between the marriage—as a shared endeavor—and estate planning for children from prior relationships is one of the most important conversations to have. There are enumerable ways to balance these two important goals.
3. Separation or Divorce: The reason most people think of a PMA is to protect their assets coming into the marriage from losing them in a divorce. Clearly, this is a major function of a Pre-Marital Agreement. However, the traditional approach of the legal profession to a PMA is for one client to see one lawyer whose duty it is to protect that client from the other spouse in the event of a divorce. This creates an enormous psychological dynamic that is completely counter to the emotions of the engagement period leading up to the wedding. These same conversations, when both parties are taking part in them, become important pragmatic exchanges that will focus on the creation of the community at the same time that discussions are being had about protecting the separate.
At The Mediation Center we help the clients engage in educational, constructive and informative conversations about these three categories identifying the specific goals of the parties and analyzing the multiple options for achieving those goals. Instead of blindly accepting the financial model that the State of California has for them, they work together to create their own specific financial plan and road map for the marriage that is specifically anchored to their individual and shared goals. Most of us will have a bigger conversation about buying a car than planning the marital financial partnership. We create a process for these most important conversations and provide the clients with a framework, information, analysis and guidance that assist them in the creatiion of their own unique financial partnership of marriage.
From a personal professional perspective, it is a real pleasure to help two people who are betrothed to one another work through the many important issues about becoming a financial partnership. It ranks right up there with the two weddings I have performed during my career!