As unromantic as it sounds, marriage is a contractual relationship between two people. Once you become legally married, you and your new spouse are now a legal unit. Considering that financial issues are one of the top drivers of divorce, it makes sense to consider whether you need one. It also provides the opportunity for you and your future spouse to sit down and discuss serious issues together.
What is a prenuptial agreement and who should have one?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that becomes effective once the parties are married and defines rights and responsibilities of each party in the event the couple divorces or one spouse dies. It cannot include things such as child support, custody or spousal maintenance. It lists the property each of you owned before marriage, and should include any debt.
Who should consider having a prenup drafted?
Anyone with significant assets or own a business should consider a prenuptial agreement, or if one partner has substantially more debt than the other. If this is a second marriage or if there are stepchildren, you can address issues such as life insurance proceeds, gifts, and inheritance. It is particularly important if there is an economic disparity between the parties, meaning that one of the spouses is wealthier than the other, or has earning capabilities that the other lacks, or one partner does not work and does not plan to do so in the future.
How long have you been with your fiancée, and how well do you know him or her? Those who have been dating for a short time and have a brief engagement should consider getting this information in writing, because the truth is that you do not know your partner that well yet.
If either or both partners are in politically sensitive careers, a prenuptial agreement protects your privacy. Anything filed in court is public record, and a nasty divorce can cast a shadow on future jobs, clients, or bids for public office.
Planning a wedding is a time of excitement and joy, and thinking or talking about a prenuptial agreement may make some people uneasy. But you can be sure that the conversation will be better received at this point in your relationship than it would be during divorce. Furthermore, your partner’s objections will teach you a great deal about their goals, values, and morals: all of which is important to be aware of prior to saying “I do.”