Prenuptial costs are those associated with creating a prenuptial agreement. This figure can vary greatly according to locale and whether you hire a lawyer or draft the agreement yourself. Since a prenuptial agreement doesn't need to be filed with the court, a court fee does not figure into your total prenuptial cost.
Lawyer's fees and prenuptial cost
If a lawyer prepares your prenuptial agreement, you and your partner can spend anywhere from a couple hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. This broad range exists because there are many factors that figure into the final sum. The complexity of a couple's finances and the time it takes to negotiate an agreement can greatly increase the hours a lawyer puts into your case. For example, a high net worth individual may have more to account for and more to negotiate through than someone with fewer assets. You may need to hire an appraiser (an additional cost) if you have real estate or collectible property. If your marriage is imminent, you may incur a higher hourly rate. Plus, both you and your partner may get individual lawyers or hire a mediator to help with negotiations-all of whom need to be paid.
Costs also vary by jurisdiction. A prenuptial agreement is state-specific and lawyer's rates may differ from state to state.
Do-it-yourself fees and prenuptial cost
There are many do-it-yourself prenuptial agreement packages. You can either purchase prenuptial agreement software or download and complete state-specific forms online. These services can cost approximately $20-$50, and may vary in what they cover.
If your situation is fairly straightforward, a do-it-yourself solution may be a smart and inexpensive way to protect your assets. However, there are drawbacks. If there hasn't been full disclosure of assets and liabilities, the court may declare your agreement invalid. This also holds true if essential information that your state requires was omitted. You may want to hire a lawyer to look over your agreement before signing to make sure it is properly executed and right for your situation.
A do-it-yourself prenuptial agreement often needs to be notarized, so a notary's fee will also figure in to your prenuptial cost.
To pay or not to pay
You may want to weigh your options before incurring any prenuptial costs. Many states already rule that anything you owned before a marriage is separate property that may not be divided if your marriage ends (although some community property states may divide separate property).
However, if you have children from a previous marriage, your own business, or substantial retirement savings, income, or debt, the prenuptial cost may be worth it to protect your rights in the case of separation or divorce.