Possible questions to consider asking in mediating prenuptial agreements, or to be filled out separately and exchanged by the parties, or done as homework then read aloud and discussed by them after completion. Not every question will be helpful for everyone and each may require some modification or revision.
1. Does this feel strange to you, discussing your divorce before you are even married? What do you hope to achieve through this conversation that might strengthen your marriage rather than weaken it?
2. How did you meet?
3. What attracted you to each other? What do you love about each other?
4. What made you decide to get married?
5. Why are you interested in reaching a prenuptial agreement?
6. Do you have any fears, anxieties or concerns regarding talking to each other and negotiating a prenuptial agreement? What are they?
7. What can we do in this conversation to reduce those fears, anxieties or concerns?
8. Have you had any arguments or conflicts in your relationship so far? What happens when you do that you wish would happen differently?
9. What is one thing the other person could do or say that would help you communicate better when you have a disagreement?
10. What is one pattern you have in conflict that you would like to break?
11. Are there any ground rules you would like to propose for this conversation, or for future conflicts and disagreements with each other?
12. What words or phrases would you use to describe the kind of relationship you most want to have with each other?
13. What are the patterns in your family of origin regarding conflict? Money? Intimacy? How did people fight in your family? Over what issues? How did they resolve or overcome their differences? What would you like to do differently?
14. What does the word “Wife” mean to you? The word “Husband”? The word “marriage”?
15. Why do you think it is important to clarify your intentions and agreements regarding the legal, monetary or property issues in your marriage?
16. What does money or property mean to you? Why do you want it? What are you afraid will happen if you don’t reach an agreement about it?
17. What would you like to have happen, once you are married, with respect to these issues, or any others you want to add:
• Property or investments you acquired before you were married?
• Property or investments you will acquire after your marriage?
• Contributions either of you may make to your life together?
• Income either of you will earn?
• Debts you may have acquired before you were married?
• Debts you will acquire after you are married?
• How you will pay for your joint living expenses?
• How to take care of children you already have or may have?
• How to take care of family members who may need assistance?
• How to handle illness, old age and retirement?
• Other issues?
18. What would you like to happen in the event that either of you dies or is seriously injured while you are married?
19. What would you like to happen if you decide to separate or divorce? What would you most like to avoid? How would you like to feel about each other?
20. Do you want to place any pre-conditions on the payment of support, or the distribution of property and debts if that were to happen?
21. If you are not able to agree, what would you like to do to resolve your differences? What methods of resolution would you like to use? Who would you like to use as a mediator or arbitrator?
22. What other issues would you like to discuss in advance of your marriage? If you were to write a “Marital Constitution,” what would you want to include? What would the Preamble say? The Bill of Rights? How would you like to make decisions regarding different issues? What will you want to do or say, and not do or say when you find yourselves in conflict? Would you each be willing to write a draft of a “Marital Constitution” and read it to each other at our next meeting?
23. What questions would you most like to ask your prospective spouse that you haven’t dared to ask?
24. What questions would you most like to be asked?
25. What would you like to say to your prospective spouse as reassurance that, in spite of having separate interests, you really want to be married to each other?
Richard Salem explains how an effective mediator facilitates a mediation and the process used to bring understanding and agreement.By Richard Salem