Perhaps you just proposed marriage to your partner, or maybe you recently accepted the proposal, and things appear to be going swimmingly until the topic of a prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital or antenuptial agreement) comes up. This will be a major problem because while your partner insists it is a good idea, you have many concerns.
When one party entering a marriage wants a prenup, and the other does not, it could indicate deeper issues that could ultimately be a reason for calling off the wedding altogether. If that is not the outcome you want, then here are some things for you to consider.
Make no mistake, prenuptial agreements are not necessarily for everybody. People may have a vast number of valid reasons for expressing concerns about entering into these contracts, which could include any of the following:
- Negotiations themselves could make divorce more likely — A prenup typically involves an “initiator” (the party seeking the prenup) and a “compliant” party (the individual being asked to sign the prenup). Some parties asking for prenuptial agreements could be demonstrating a lack of faith in their future spouses as well as a supposed lack of commitment to the marriage. Furthermore, actually negotiating the prenuptial agreement will not be romantic, and discussions that become challenging may adversely impact the health of the relationship. Even though many parties say that after the wedding, they can simply put the premarital agreement away and forget about it, the agreement is never easily forgotten and can lead to lingering resentment that ultimately impacts the health of the marriage.
- You cannot afford to hire legal representation — Prenuptial agreements will usually require both parties to have their own independent legal counsel. This is not a cost that every potential spouse can afford to bear, though. U.S. News & World Report said that couples pay $2,500 on average for prenuptial agreements, and those costs may be even higher in some cases. When you cannot afford to shoulder this kind of cost, you should not have to settle for a lesser attorney who may or may not be capable of getting the outcome you want. Such expenses can also cut into what a couple plans to spend on the actual marriage and honeymoon. Without competent legal representation, you could feel forced into a contract that can feel very coercive.
- It is your first marriage — When you are both entering into your first marriage, and there is not a gigantic disparity in income or assets, a prenuptial agreement may be somewhat unnecessary. In general, prenups will be more beneficial for people entering into second or subsequent marriages when there may be concerns relating to custody of children from prior marriages.
- You think your state laws will be sufficient — Perhaps you live in a community property state that imposes a 50/50 split on your marital estate. Or maybe you just think that existing state laws will provide enough protection in manners concerning child custody, property distribution, and child or spousal support. When you are confident that a state judge will be able to make divisions fairly and equitably, then you can very well see a prenup as being unnecessary.
- There is no intention to add assets — When a couple does not plan to create an estate or have children or pets, then a prenuptial agreement does not seem like a valid concern. A prenup does not seem advisable when neither party plans to have a change in employment. Even if something does arise, then that is what a postnuptial agreement is for.
While you may be against the idea of a prenuptial agreement right now, you could also be harboring some doubts in your own line of thinking. If you are more on the fence about the idea than you are leading on, then here are some reasons that you should actually consider signing one.
- The prenup may be required — It could be possible that your future spouse has a trust or inheritance that specifically requires a prenuptial agreement to be signed. In this case, the request for a prenup is not your partner’s desire since they are only doing what is required of them.
- Protect your assets — Maybe you anticipate a big inheritance coming in down the line, or maybe you even already received one. A prenuptial agreement will be able to protect any assets you believe should not be split should your marriage end in a divorce. Furthermore, if you own a business, a prenup will make sure that your future partner is not able to claim some kind of ownership in a divorce.
- Limit your debt exposure — When you are entering a marriage, it is not just your incomes that become shared but also your debt. There will not be an even allocation of debts between partners, so you do not want to be the partner forced to pay off your partner’s creditors. A prenuptial agreement will limit a partner’s exposure to the spouse’s debt in the event of a divorce, and your contract can outline separate debts going into the marriage in addition to individual assets so it is easier to achieve a clear division between prior debts and debts that may be accrued by you as a couple during the marriage.
- Avoid future court costs — With a solid prenuptial agreement, you can help prevent locking you into a costly and draining legal divorce process that can cost several thousands of dollars. When the prenup establishes how to divide assets, there will be less need for court battles.
- You have investments — If you currently have or are planning to open an investment or retirement account, vesting opportunities, or stock options from an employer, a prenup will definitely be a good idea. Again, if you already own a business or plan to open one on your own, then a prenuptial agreement ensures that shares of your business do not go to a person your business partners did not intend to be working with.
When your partner seeks a prenuptial agreement, it will be imperative for you to make sure you are working with an experienced family law attorney. Do not wait to seek out an initial consultation to discuss your case and determine whether signing the prenup is actually going to serve all of your long-term interests.