You’re engaged. Love is in the air. Wedding bells are ringing. The last thing you want to think about is divorce. Maybe that’s why you haven’t talked about a prenup with your fiancé. You feel like you’d be planning for a divorce when you just want to plan your wedding.
But here’s the reality: not getting a prenup could end up being a costly mistake. This misstep can take a toll on your financial, emotional, and mental well-being down the line.
It’s risky. Think of it like driving without a seat belt. You don’t plan to get into a car crash, but you buckle up in case you do. Now, it’s a bit more nuanced than that, but the seat belt comparison helps define the risk to reward ratio at play here.
Let’s unpack why getting a prenup is an entirely sensible proposition and not a cynical one.
Marriage is a Financial Contract
In California, getting married without a prenup means you’re agreeing to a predefined set of financial rules. You start acquiring income, property, and debt as a “community,” where you and your partner own almost everything 50/50. In essence, California law will be your prenup anyway.
However, prenup discussions help you clarify and take control of these financial matters. From a legal standpoint, you have an opportunity to create rules that you and your partner deem as fair and relevant to your specific relationship. Essentially, you’re creating your own custom contract and taking proactive measures to prevent marital conflicts often centered around money.
Plus, you get the benefit of speaking openly and honestly about finances. This can reveal more about your partner than you think (both good and bad). But don’t be afraid to have these real talks, which will further the trust and intimacy in your relationship.
On one hand, if you’ve discovered that you don’t see eye to eye on your values and priorities around money, then consider it a gift that you’re not married yet! If the talks went well, then you’re on the right track to a successful marriage story—one where money doesn’t have to show up as the problematic recurring villain.
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
Worst Case Scenario Protection
The reality is: things change. People change. Even good people get divorced!
A prenup gives you peace of mind that, in the event of a divorce, you and your partner have taken time ahead to carefully figure things out. You’ll be in a position to move on with strength and confidence in case your marriage comes to an unexpected end.
To be clear, you’re not planning to get divorced here. Instead, both you and your partner are responsibly working out real, challenging scenarios that may come up. And remember, it’s far better to have a prenup, and not need it, than to need it, but not have it.
Taking the High Road
In marriage law cases, we’ve seen few things worse than divorce litigation. Couples, once madly in love, have opted into lengthy, drawn-out battles, costing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. These court fights aim to settle most of the property (and sometimes petty) issues that could have easily been addressed in a prenup.
Prenups also work as insurance for your emotional and personal health. Unfortunately, litigation drains people of their time and energy, and even stunts their ability to grow as individuals. It’s exhausting to fight, let alone having to do so in a courtroom.
The good news is that prenups can address issues beyond finances and cover topics based on your personal goals and desired quality of life. Millennials are including clauses that explore areas gaining attention like pets and privacy. You, too, can define your prenup to solve for a variety of marriage scenarios relevant to you. By clearly laying out guidelines for success, you can also establish the consequences of failing to meet them as well.
Continue to ask questions and learn about prenuptial agreements. This prenup guide walks you through the gamut of questions to ask yourself and your partner. Through this discovery, you set yourself up to enjoy a fruitful marriage as well a healthy plan in case things don’t work out. If you’re already married, consider a postnuptial agreement, instead. If you have questions or need more clarification, reach out to us—we’d be happy to walk you through this essential part of your life.