Prenup: An honest conversation for your future
Prenups. You probably have an automatic response. Hold that response, and hear me out: PRENUP IS NOT A DIRTY WORD! Of course, you say, a family law attorney and mediator would say that. But listen, Linda, here is why I say prenups shouldn't be as scary as you may think they are:
We’re in Love. Why Do We Need a Prenup?
If you’re part of a couple and marriage looks like it may be on the horizon, you may spend hours choosing your venue, attire, food, drinks, and more on the day- that is, spending time on the wedding. But how much time and effort, energy and tough talk are you willing to put into the actual marriage? An agreement, like a prenup, can be on of the biggest ways for a couple to prepare for their new status as spouses. But I get it, there’s a stigma and no one wants to think about a prenup. This is understandable, as no one usually seeks to marry intending for this relationship to be over one day. However, the belief that discussing or entering into a prenuptial agreement somehow equates to confidence the relationship will eventually end is misguided.
What Protections Does a Prenup Provide?
Some of the most important reasons for consideration of, and entry into, a prenuptial agreement lie in the legal protections provided. While neither you nor your future spouse may intend on one day ending the relationship, a prenuptial agreement can minimize the speculation for what can happen should the relationship end. Legally speaking, a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement can protect one or both of you by:
Protecting separate property, both financially valuable and sentimentally treasured;
Defining marital or community property;
Protecting assets from debts of a future spouse;
Supporting estate planning by protecting inheritance of children or preserving the integrity of a will;
Clarifying agreements between the parties, such as financial support and debt/expense responsibility;
Establishing procedures for resolving future disputes;
Reducing the likelihood of legal conflict in the future;
Saving money in a dissolution by providing certainty of what will happen if a marriage were to dissolve.
In addition to providing legal protections, a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement may have practical benefits. Your relationship can actually be made stronger because:
Communicating about issues such as finances early on can foster better communication moving forward;
Discussing assets and debts can eliminate the potential for future misunderstandings;
Sharing financial information can eliminate worries that money or possessions may be a motivation for one or both of you in marriage;
Discussing finances and money will occur sooner or later, and there is no time like the present.
What Do We Need to Know about Signing the Prenup?
In signing a prenuptial agreement, both you and your future spouse should feel confident in the decision. Signing such an agreement can have significant effects on both of your lives moving forward. As such, you each should be ready.
Prior to signing, there should be full disclosure from each of you. You and your future spouse should feel confident the other has fully disclosed all pertinent information with regard to assets, debts, expenses, and any other issues that may be covered under the agreement. If either of you still questions the situation or intent of the other, perhaps further discussion is needed.
So what now?
Talk to your spouse, and consider reaching out to a mediator or an attorney who has experience with prenuptial agreements. They will help you sort out the next steps. Be mindful that you should take care of the prenup well in advance of the wedding wherever possible. Spend those final weeks or months enjoying the engagement bliss and on annoying office visits to your local attorney.
And if you're wondering, YES! I've talked about prenups before here.
Katherine Holmes | Gipe Holmes PC
Updated May 13, 2018