You don’t have to be rich and famous like Kim & Kanye or Bill & Melinda to need a prenup, but it’s understandable why some people feel this way.
Historically, the media touted the prenup as a way for celebrities to protect their wealth before entering into a new marriage. If they divorced without one, big payouts made the front page.
Over time, prenups became synonymous with famed weddings and breakups, creating a larger moat between the general public and the true purpose and benefits of prenuptial agreements.
Let’s debunk this myth and showcase how prenups can help anyone — not just the rich and famous — planning to get married.
Prenups Spur Crucial Talks About Money
A prenuptial agreement (AKA “prenup”) is a legally binding contract between you and your partner outlining what happens if you divorce. It can cover topics such as property division, spousal support, and even pet custody.
Equally as important, it allows you and your partner to clearly understand your respective income, debts, and assets before you marry. Additionally, It’s a great opportunity to deepen your relationship by discussing your views and values on money. For example, you can answer questions like:
- Are you a saver or a splurger?
- Are you risk-averse or tolerant?
- How did your family view money?
- How does your culture influence your views on money?
These conversations ensure that you and your partner are on the same page before tying the knot. If these money talks go well, then keep going, get an ironclad prenup, and continue having constructive conversations after getting married.
If you discover that you and your partner don’t see eye to eye on financial matters and uncover red flags, then take a pause and don’t get married yet. It signals that you must work out vital issues around money (and life) before committing to a lifelong relationship.
Bottom line: It’s not a requirement to be wealthy to have deep financial discussions. Anyone can do the work upfront to feel sound and secure as a unified couple walking down the aisle.
BEFORE getting married, what conversations about MONEY should you have with your partner?
Use this guide to discuss budgets, assets, debts, goals, joints bank accounts and more.Get the guide
Prenups Don’t Always Favor the Wealthier Spouse
A prenup is designed to be a common-sense document that is mutually beneficial for both parties. Because of this, even if a prenup favors the wealthier spouse, it should also provide some benefits of getting married for the other spouse.
In publicized divorces, the narrative often turns to how much money the wealthier spouse is losing. As a result, prenups get the stigma of being a shield for the wealthy. But it’s more nuanced and practical than that.
Let’s take a look at a more common example:
You and your partner agree that you will quit your job and stay home to raise the children. Your prenup can include provisions to get compensated for this break in your career via spousal support. You now have a written clause in your agreement that fairly accounts for you and your partner’s contributions and benefits both of you.
Bottom line: Each partner must consider their financial contributions and liabilities to ensure that the agreement is equitable. If not, a judge may void the prenup.
Like Insurance, Prenups Protect You In Unexpected Scenarios
No one gets married expecting to end up in divorce. No one expects to get into a car accident, either. Or break their phone. Or end up in the hospital.
Nonetheless, insurance gives us the comfort in knowing that we aren’t spending a fortune solving an unforeseen challenge. In this way, getting a prenup is getting insurance for your marriage. Anyone should have a right to peace of mind — not just the wealthy.
But what happens if you don’t take the time to get a prenup? Your state’s default laws will divide up your assets and debts for you. The state’s one-size-fits-all approach can turn the most straightforward divorces into messy, drawn-out battles. You end up hashing through difficult financial matters under much more dire circumstances and duress. And, more often than not, you end up spending a lot more time and money than getting a prenup in the first place.
Bottom line: Taking the proactive approach of protecting both you and your partner before saying “I do” is a savvy move. A signed contract can give you much-needed peace of mind and financial security in case the marriage ends unexpectedly.
Young People Are Getting Prenups
Millennials, Gen Y & Z, use prenups to solve their generation’s specific issues. This is a strong trend for youths who are often characterized as being financially irresponsible and impulsive.
For starters, it’s been widely reported youths are riddled with debt (e.g., student loans). So you can include a clause in your prenup to protect yourself from any debt your partner incurs during the marriage. In this way, a prenup is both a loving and practical tool.
Technology plays a huge role as well. Trading stocks, working remotely, and becoming an entrepreneur have much fewer barriers to entry. Young people can make and lose a lot of money and have become accustomed to riding these wild waves alone.
This sense of autonomy carries over into relationships and, ultimately, marriages. Prenups give them a straightforward way to keep money separate from the outset and opt out of community property rules. Examples of this clarity include maintaining separate bank accounts and establishing who pays the bills.
Bottom line: Like the younger generations, embrace prenups as a practical and effective tool to establish clarity and protection without sacrificing love and romance.
Prenups Cover More Than Money
Couples include clauses that go beyond financial matters, further underscoring that wealth and fame aren’t the only factors that warrant a prenup.
One issue is privacy concerns over social media. You can get as detailed as how, when, and what type of content is allowed or detail the repercussions for posting damaging media during a divorce proceeding.
Another clause determines who gets the pets. Once seen as a “physical property,” California judges now view Fido and Peewee at a higher level than the coveted table lamp. It’s an awkward and tough conversation, but you can make this decision now so the judge doesn’t pick for you in the event of a divorce.
Bottom line: Aside from money, you can add provisions to your prenup that help guide your marriage and solve specific scenarios that may come up in a divorce.
Final Thoughts: Affording a Prenup
So prenups aren’t just powers summoned by the rich and famous — but how much do they cost? The cost of a prenup varies depending on how many clauses you include, how complex your financial situation is, and where you live.
A well-crafted prenup drafted by a Los Angeles family law attorney can start at $5,000. If this is outside your budget, you can write your own prenup or use an online service, but remember that if the prenup isn’t written correctly, it can be voided by a judge. The surefire way is to have a seasoned lawyer review your prenup to ensure your agreement is enforceable when you need it.