Why Prenup Should Never Be A Dirty Word
We’re in Love. Why Do We Need a Prenup?
If you are part of a couple contemplating marriage, a prenuptial agreement (prenup) may be one of the last things on your mind. This is understandable, as no one usually seeks to marry intending for this relationship to be over one day. However, the belief that discussing or entering into a prenuptial agreement somehow equates to confidence the relationship will eventually end is misguided.
Consideration of a prenuptial agreement can be an important step in the progression of your relationship.
What Protections Does a Prenup Provide?
Some of the most important reasons for consideration of, and entry into, a prenuptial agreement lie in the legal protections provided. While neither you nor your future spouse may intend on one day ending the relationship, a prenuptial agreement can minimize the speculation for what can happen should the relationship end. Legally speaking, a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement can protect one or both of you by:
- Protecting separate property, both financially valuable and sentimentally treasured;
- Defining marital or community property;
- Protecting assets from debts of a future spouse;
- Supporting estate planning by protecting inheritance of children or preserving the integrity of a will;
- Clarifying agreements between the parties, such as financial support and debt/expense responsibility;
- Establishing procedures for resolving future disputes;
- Reducing the likelihood of legal conflict in the future;
- Saving money in a dissolution by providing certainty of what will happen if a marriage were to dissolve.
In addition to providing legal protections, a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement may have practical benefits. Your relationship can actually be made stronger because:
- Communicating about issues such as finances early on can foster better communication moving forward;
- Discussing assets and debts can eliminate the potential for future misunderstandings;
- Sharing financial information can eliminate worries that money or possessions may be a motivation for one or both of you in marriage;
- Discussing finances and money will occur sooner or later, and there is no time like the present.
Isn’t a Prenup a Taboo Subject?
In many cases, “prenup” may be a taboo word neither of you wants to mention. There are a number of reasons why one or both parties involved in a relationship may not want to consider such an agreement. Again, these notions are often misguided.
Many people consider a prenuptial agreement to be done in anticipation of divorce for self-protection. This is not the case. Providing protection for both you and your future spouse should the relationship end does not equate to a belief it will. Just as people have car insurance in case they are in an accident, so, too, couples need prenuptial agreements in case they decide to divorce.
You may refrain from discussing prenuptial agreements because you believe doing so is not romantic. This may be true, yet it does not account for the bigger picture. While relationships are about romance, they also have practical sides. Having conversations about financial issues early can allow you to focus on the passion and romance moving forward.
How Do I Bring Up the Subject of Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into between two parties contemplating marriage. As such, it requires the basic elements of all contracts, including mutual assent. One crucial aspect of achieving mutual assent lies in the discussion prior to signing.
First and foremost, the timing must be right. Often, the earlier the discussions start, the better. The dialogue should continue as the relationship progresses. It should not begin days or hours before a wedding.
Additionally, the setting must be right. It is both prudent and advisable that the setting for the discussion of a prenuptial agreement be a familiar and neutral. It should be a setting in which both you and your future spouse are comfortable and relaxed. Such a setting will foster agreement by allowing you both to be open and honest, discuss your concerns, and present ideas in the context of your union and not your individual identities. After all, a prenuptial agreement can be part of the broader planning for the relationship, so the discussion of questions or concerns in a comfortable environment can encourage you both to work through issues together.
If done properly, the discussion of a prenuptial agreement can be an effective exercise in opening the lines of communication. It can allow you both to express your hopes and dreams for a stable, rather than providing an outlet for either of you to protect yourself from the other.
The discussion can also define marital roles and provide equality for you both rather than giving one of you an advantage over another. It is a great way to learn about your potential future spouse and what may be important to him or her, and it can serve as a reassurance that you both want the same things from the relationship.
Read one couple’s prenup story here.
What Do We Need to Know about Signing the Prenup?
In signing a prenuptial agreement, both you and your future spouse should feel confident in the decision. Signing such an agreement can have significant effects on both of your lives moving forward. As such, you each should be ready.
Prior to signing, there should be full disclosure from each of you. You and your future spouse should feel confident the other has fully disclosed all pertinent information with regard to assets, debts, expenses, and any other issues that may be covered under the agreement. If either of you still questions the situation or intent of the other, perhaps further discussion is needed.
The agreement should be carefully drafted. Both you and your future spouse would be wise to seek the assistance of your own attorneys in preparing and signing an agreement. A competent attorney can keep you advised of local rules and laws regarding property and other issues, and can spot unfair agreements or unenforceable provisions within an agreement. Unfair or unenforceable agreements do neither of you any good. An attorney can also ensure that the practical requirements for enforceability are met, such as providing witnesses, recording, or notarization, any of which may be necessary under local laws.
For more information, contact a divorce attorney at McKinley Irvin, or read more about how to determine if you need a prenup.
- Unmarried Couples