Learn what a prenuptial agreement is, why you shouldn’t be hurt if your fiancé asks you to sign a marriage contract, and the pros and cons of signing a prenuptial agreement.
Even if a lawyer has drawn up the prenuptial agreement, I encourage you to get Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair & Lasting Contract by Katherine Stoner and Shae Irving. Learn as much as you can about the legality of this marriage contract – make sure you protect yourself! Don’t get caught up in the emotional or moral aspects of signing a prenuptial agreement, especially if you haven’t reviewed the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements yet. Get informed.
Deciding whether you should sign a prenuptial agreement should not be an emotional decision. It’s a legal contract that is separate from the love and romance in your relationship. If your fiancé (or his family, or his lawyers) is asking you to sign a prenuptial agreement, I ask “why not?”
Signing a prenuptial agreement does not indicate a lack of love or trust in your relationship. It’s simply a document to protect you and your fiancé from unpredictable situations in the future.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are legal documents that are signed before a couple marries, and are more common in second and third marriages than first marriages. Prenups describe the financial arrangements between a husband and wife, and spell out what happens to the couple’s money and businesses in case of divorce.
Prenuptial agreements aren’t romantic – and they’re certainly not part of the traditional wedding planning tips for engaged couples – but they aren’t a bad idea. Before you read through the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements, here are a few interesting facts about these marriage contracts…
The most surprising thing about prenuptial agreements is that couples have begun to add social media clauses to their contracts, according to financial adviser Kathleen Grace, author of the book Prince Not So Charming: A Romantic Tale of Financial Independence – a book that will inspire and empower you to take control of your finances regardless of the obstacles you face.
When social media clauses are added to prenuptial agreements, it gives couples the chance to dictate what can and cannot be said on social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, personal blogs, company websites, etc. This includes what photographs and other pictoral depictions are posted on social media websites.
“The reality of life is that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce,” says Grace. “A prenuptial agreement is a good idea because it means both parties are walking into the marriage with their eyes wide open. The social media clause is really an extension of the non-disparagement clause.” The secret to making a social networking clause part of the prenuptial agreement is to be as specific as possible – name the websites, mention photos and videos posted without your consent, and say exactly what you feel would be offensive.
Some prenuptial agreements dissolve after 10 years, or whenever the couple decides. One of the pros of prenuptial agreements is that you have the power to at least suggest that certain clauses be added, such as the dissolution of the agreement if you’re still happily married in five, ten, or more years.
Prenuptial Agreements – Pros and Cons
The pros of a prenuptial agreement include:
- An opportunity to practice your communication and negotiation skills (including whether you should sign a prenuptial agreement) – which are vital to every marriage!
- Decisions of how current individual financial debt is to be handled, such as your student loan or credit card bill
- Protection of retirement assets accumulated previous to your relationship
- Protection of rights of children from previous marriages and relationships
- Protection of financial, real estate, and property assets
- Protection of inheritances – both future and current
- Protection of assets accumulated before you and your fiancé decided to get married
- Help keeping marital assets separate from non-marital or business assets. For instance, if you’re a Chief Financial Officer or business owner, you may not want your professional assets affected by a divorce (even though you know divorce is not in your future!)
Prenuptial agreements are all about protection in the event of a divorce. But when you’re getting married, the last thing on your mind is divorce, right? So why should you sign a prenuptial agreement?
Read How to Talk About Money Before Marriage if you’re reluctant to discuss financial matters with your fiancé – especially if you’re bringing financial debt into the marriage. If you’re not sure if you should sign a prenuptial agreement – even before you’ve full considered the pros and cons of signing a “divorce contract”, talk to someone you trust. Or a lawyer.
The cons of a prenuptial agreement include:
- A potential bone of contention in your relationship, or a shadow that never completely leaves your marriage
- The belief that you and your spouse aren’t fully committed to making your marriage work, no matter what
- Arguments and hurt feelings about money, love, and long-term commitment
- Increased wedding expenses – you should hire an independent lawyer to review the prenuptial agreement before you sign it
- The agony of deciding if you should sign a prenuptial agreement, even when the pros and cons are evident
- The opinions and thoughts of family members and friends who don’t agree you should sign a prenuptial agreement, or who won’t consider the pros and cons of prenups
What prenuptial agreement pros and cons have I missed? I welcome your comments below.
Should You Sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
Read Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman (author of the 5 Love Languages). He’s a bestselling author and marriage counselor with more than 35 years of experience. He believes divorce is the lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as intimate teammates.
This book is packed with wisdom and tips that will help many develop the loving, supportive and mutually beneficial marriage men and women long for. It’s the type of information Gary himself wished he had before he got married.
The bottom line is that some couples won’t find prenuptial agreements necessary – and only you can decide if you should sign a marriage contract before you get married. My husband and I had no need for a marriage contract because we had nothing before we married. Well, actually, he had invested about $350,000 in a house before I came along. So our prenuptial agreement might state that should we get divorced, he’d automatically get #350,000 off the sale of our current house.
What assets does your fiancé need to protect, and how can you help him protect them? Signing a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean you’ll lose everything or anything in the event of a divorce! It means you love your fiancé, and you don’t want any of his money or stuff.
Deciding if you should sign a prenuptial agreement is but one question you need to answer before you marry. Read Premarital Questions – What You Need to Know Before Marrying.