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About Premarital Agreements
In its most basic description, a premarital agreement is a contract between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage. This clearly written primer focuses on the fundamentals involved in negotiating and drafting these agreements, explaining the most critical aspects involved in creating a premarital agreement:
The law of validity and the steps involved in creating a valid agreement;
The role of the lawyer in creating the agreement, various ethical components of an agreement and the practical techniques of negotiating the terms of the agreement;
Post-execution issues; and
Text of a model agreement and drafting techniques to carry out the objectives of the parties. To assist the drafter, various options are given that allow the premarital agreement to be tailored to the client's specific needs.
To begin the book, Linda Ravdin, an experienced family lawyer well-known for her knowledge of premarital and marital agreements, focuses on the law related to creating a valid agreement. She summarizes the criteria for validity and examines the elements of a valid agreement as well as the legal theories that have been used to attack validity, such as voluntariness and how it, along with the related concepts of duress and undue influence, are interpreted in the case law. Information about validity covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Other chapters address terms regarding nonfinancial issues, terms regulating the ongoing marriage, spousal support and attorney's fees.
The second part of the book examines the lawyer's role in the process. Chapters consider both the critical ethical issues presented in drafting and negotiation as well as more practical aspects of negotiating the terms. In the next part, Ravdin discusses the most common issues that can arise after the agreement has been executed. As she notes, an understanding how post-execution conduct can affect a party's rights will assist the lawyer at the drafting stage by suggesting terms to better protect the client, and can also suggest advice the lawyer should consider giving the client to secure the rights he or she bargained for.
A model agreement and discussion of each part of the agreement is contained in the book's final section. The discussion will aid the drafter in choosing from various options to tailor the agreement to the needs of the client. In addition, the appendices provide sample letters and related forms and a chart summarizing the law in all 51 jurisdictions. All forms are contained on a CD-ROM accompanying the book.