If you haven’t talked about a prenup while planning your marriage, the thought of discussing one can be daunting. Before you freak out, understand that this can be an opportunity to have tough, but rewarding and revealing talks with your partner. We’ll walk you through what to expect in this article.
The Truth About Prenups
You might think a prenup is presumptive of a marriage that won’t last or will invite drama into your relationship. In truth, prenups provide an opportunity for you and your fiancé to take control over your marriage by making clear decisions on financial and legal matters. In fact, myths around prenups have been debunked, including the misconception that they are tools in place to protect only the wealthy or Hollywood celebrities. Prenups are more commonplace than ever, and can provide long-term benefits for any marriage, not just high-profile ones. So, before you get offended when your partner brings up a “prenup,” make sure you educate yourself on what it entails first.
Benefits of a Prenup
A prenup is a legal agreement that two people enter into before they become officially married. Prenuptial agreements can cover a wide range of issues but are predominantly centered on assets and property rights. Aside from this conventional role, prenups can also cover other issues like incapacity, death, student debts, estate planning, spousal support, and a myriad of other legal concerns.
One primary reason you may choose to sign a prenup is to customize the rules of marriage best suited for you and your partner. Otherwise, you’ll be accepting the default laws provided by your state in the case of an unexpected end to your marriage. For example, without a prenup in California, community property law dictates that any property and income acquired during your marriage belongs to both of you, equally. Perhaps this isn’t ideal because you own or have an interest in certain property prior to your marriage, and intend to keep it your separate property.
Additionally, other reasons might come into play when considering a prenup. If you have children from a previous marriage, then a prenup can provide that the children’s expenses be paid from monies other than community property income. Ultimately, prenups are solutions for people who want to determine their own way—not the state’s way—of operating in their marriage.
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Should You Take Offense to a Prenup?
The simple answer is: it depends. You have to uncover what the prenup entails in order to decide whether it’s fair.
Navigating a Prenup
First and foremost, sit down and discuss how you feel with your partner. Take the time to hear their side and go through the specifications of the agreement together. While doing this, keep in mind that prenuptial agreements should be a collaboration guided by dialogue. Its contents should not be from the voice of one person in the union. If you start to feel like the terms are one-sided, ask for some time to think it over—instead of reacting on the spot.
Should you find certain portions confusing or unfair, you can always seek the guidance of legal counsel—preferably someone who specializes in marriage contracts. Remember, the goal is to find common ground that feels comfortable and safe for both of you. Having said that, let’s go over what to do whether your prenup talks are productive or going south.
Prenups talks went well: You’re on the same page
Congratulations! Not only did you not need to take offense, you’ve walked through some important issues that you’ll surely face after getting married. While you’ve set the tone for a successful agreement, it’s equally important to carefully identify and add your terms as well. Prenups are meant to be mutually beneficial – protecting both partners. To meet that objective, use this prenup guide with your partner, or with a lawyer, so you can clearly establish your goals and ensure that they are met in the agreement.
Prenups talks went poorly: Don’t get married yet
Yes, some marriages fall apart before they’ve started, because the couple couldn’t agree on the prenup terms. If financial discussions or prenup negotiations do end with a breakup, you may want to consider that it wasn’t the prenup itself, but the reluctance or inability to be honest, transparent and respectful about money matters. A huge part of being married involves money transactions—mundane regular expenses such as utilities and groceries, and bigger purchases like a home. So avoiding it before marriage doesn’t set you up for success within the marriage.
A broken engagement isn’t fun, but it’s a lot less messy (and expensive) than a divorce.
To Prenup or Not to Prenup
At the end of the day, working out your prenups will depend greatly on the circumstances that surround it. It’s important for both you and your partner to identify your financial and non-monetary goals and have real, honest conversations about them now.
At Hekmat Law & Mediation, we believe that a prenup is a win-win situation for both of you. You’ll either have the necessary and vital conversations about finances to build a successful marriage, or you’ll learn that you and your partner may not be absolutely right for each other in the first place.
Ultimately, should you decide that a prenup is in order, having it drafted and finalized by a lawyer ensures that the document is enforceable. If you have any questions on prenups or need a professional to review your agreement, let us know and we’d be happy to help.