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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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Prenuptial agreement

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If in doubt, please send a new question or ask for an update.

Q: I need to talk to a divorce lawyer about how to proceed with a divorce. Can you please give me any direction? I simply do not want to pick one out of the yellow pages. I also am not sure of my rights. I have signed a prenuptial agreement and quite frankly I just want what I went in with.

A: You should speak to a lawyer before doing anything else. This will determine what strategy you should pursue regarding the prenuptial and other divorce issues. There is a possibility that you may not need to be represented, but it is too soon to make this decision. Call the local Bar Association in your county and ask for 3 referrals for attorneys who will handle divorce. You might only be able to get one at a time, but do not be timid - call back a second and third time. They have a database of local attorneys and usually select the attorneys on a rotating schedule. Usually this bar association referral program entitles you a short consultation for a reduced fee, for example 1/2 hour for $40. Take advantage of it; meet with all three. Ask lots of questions about your marital situation and take notes. Towards the end of the meeting ask them directly "Do you think you are the right attorney for me?" In the end, go with your gut feeling on who you should hire. If your prenuptial uses the most typical language, you may be able to avoid a legal battle if the assets you brought to the marriage are still intact and separately titled. The law on premarital agreements is pretty straightforward yet I understand that a significant number of them are discarded for failure to meet the legal requirement for validity. But even if this is the case, the bad news is that you have two battles to fight: first you have to fight the prenuptial and then fight the divorce case.


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