Although you may want to avoid talking about finances, money, and budgeting, these are important topics to discuss with your partner before marriage. Prenuptial agreements, or prenups, are a way to protect your assets, but many couples fear that this will take the romance out of their lives.
It’s not absolutely necessary to get a prenuptial agreement. Like many aspects of relationships and wedding planning, this is a personal decision between you and your future spouse. If you’re unsure whether a prenup is for you, learn the basics of the agreement and consider prenuptial agreement pros and cons.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, called a prenup for short, is a type of legal contract between you and your partner. This family law agreement dictates what will happen to your personal property in case of divorce or even death. Prenups are often made if one partner has substantial wealth or has a large amount of debt.
Prenuptial agreements cover how assets will be divided between the couple in the event of a divorce. This includes setting up spousal support expectations, real estate, and even custody if you have children.
Even outside these circumstances, prenups can be a good time to have a discussion about finances. Prenups can also cover each partner’s financial obligations after marriage. This includes any personal belongings as well as property and debt.
Prenup Pros and Cons
Before deciding on whether to get a prenuptial agreement, talk to your partner and discuss what would be the best for your relationship and marriage. As with any agreement, there are a variety of pros and cons you should consider. Account for these prenuptial agreement pros and cons before you decide whether or not to get a prenup.
Prenuptial Agreement Pros
For individuals and couples, a major concern is money. By working with your partner to sign a prenup, you’ve taken an essential step in your relationship and future. Signing a prenup means that you’ll need to have a thorough conversation about your assets, and you’ll understand what your partner’s financial situation is like. Before you get married, this is an important topic to consider.
Some couples fail to discuss their financial situation before marriage, including debt, credit scores, real estate, and other factors. Prenuptial agreements force couples to consider their finances and may help you better understand your partner’s financial successes or hardships.
Another benefit of signing a prenup is being able to protect your assets and belongings. Although it’s not pleasant to think about a messy breakup, many relationships do end in divorce. In the event of a divorce, a prenup will save you time and money by spelling out what belongings and property you and your partner will each receive – so neither of you has to worry about a bankruptcy lawyer in the future. A prenup can also cover how much you may need to pay your partner in alimony or spousal support.
While it is unpleasant to think of divorce when you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, prenups are often a good idea. Divorce can be messy and extremely expensive if you have to pay a law firm – if you have your assets split already by prenuptial agreements, you will save yourself a lot of trouble down the road. Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for the rich either – anyone can benefit from a prenup. Often, those who have a previous marriage under their belt are more pro-prenup because they know how difficult divorce can be.
Besides securing your own belongings, you can also dictate who gets your assets in the event of your death. This is also covered by a will, but you can leave certain items to your children or family members in a prenup as well.
Prenuptial Agreement Cons
Although there are a number of benefits to signing a prenup, there are also disadvantages. For some couples, getting a premarital agreement means assuming that the marriage will end in divorce. Financial planning is critical, but talking about a prenup may be seen as more aggressive. A major downside for couples is that prenups may lead to fighting and friction in the relationship.
Weddings are full of love and are seen as a romantic affair, while prenups are viewed as the opposite. Dealing with finances and signing a prenup can put a damper on wedding planning. Prenups can ruin the romance in the relationship or the trust each partner has in the other. It may feel like you’re planning for a divorce.
Understand that a prenup doesn’t mean you’re already assuming the worst; you and your partner are planning for the future. However, if a prenup makes a divorce feel inevitable, it might not be the right decision for you.
In some cases, a prenup may also favor one spouse over the other. If one spouse is significantly wealthier than the other, it may be a disadvantage for the other future spouse to sign a premarital agreement. Ask for legal advice to figure out if a prenup makes sense for your unique situation.
For some couples, signing a prenup before marriage is too early in the relationship. While you and your partner should be able to have an open and honest conversation about money, you could need more time before signing a legal agreement. If this is the case, signing a postnup might be the better option for you and your partner.
How to Get a Prenup
The laws for prenups vary state by state, and you should consult a lawyer as you work through the process. You and your partner should hire separate lawyers for this process, and your lawyer should represent your best interests. Expect to spend around $2,500 on getting a prenup, according to U.S. News & World Report.
You can also draft your own prenup, and there are templates available online. For example, you can start with Rocket Lawyer. As you’re drafting your prenup, be in constant communication with your partner. Some of your assets can be kept separate while other assets are shared between the two of you. Even if you and your partner work on creating a prenup before meeting with lawyers, be sure to consult with a lawyer and get them involved during the process.
While signing a prenup, it’s useful to have a notary present. In case there’s any conflict down the line, you want your prenup to be a valid document. For example, a prenup can be invalid if one partner signs under duress.
How To Ask for a Prenup
Perhaps you know that a premarital agreement is the right choice for you, but you’re worried how your future spouse will take the suggestion. It can be awkward and uncomfortable to discuss prenuptial agreements.
Ideally, bring up the idea of a premarital agreement early in your relationship. If you bring it up for the first time right before you’re about to walk down the aisle, it may not be received as well. Try to ask early in your engagement so that the conversation happens early.
Try to decide on the terms of your prenup together. It’s common to hire separate lawyers so that you have representation looking after each of your best interests. Even with separate family law attorneys offering legal advice, however, you can work together with your partner to decide what works for your relationship. A mediator may be a helpful option to come up with terms that fit both of your needs.
Finally, be honest and open when discussing a prenuptial agreement. Tell your partner what you want included and why. A prenup doesn’t have to mean you’re planning for divorce – it just means you’re preparing for your future responsibly.
Prenup vs. Postnup
What’s the difference between a prenup and a postnup? For the most part, a prenup and postnup are the same thing, but the couple creates a postnup after the wedding. Wedding planning is a momentous task, and finding a venue or sending out invitations often takes precedence over signing a prenup.
However, if you feel that you need to lay out the financial responsibilities after the marriage, a postnup is a good option. You can even sign a postnup years after your marriage. Ultimately, whether you sign a prenup or postnup is up to you and your partner. Just be aware that even after the wedding, it’s not too late to sign a financial agreement.
Any couple can get a prenup. Although it’s commonly associated with couples where one partner is wealthy, couples who have children from prior marriages and couples who own a business together should also consider signing a prenup. Even if you don’t fall into any of those categories, if you feel like a prenup is necessary, talk to your partner about drafting one.
Before you begin the process of drafting a prenup and contacting lawyers, discuss the pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement with your partner. Keep in mind that finances are a crucial topic to be on the same page about, but this can also be a sensitive topic. Prenups work better for some couples than others, so take your time making your decision.
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