When couples marry, the last thing either party wants to consider is that the other partner could be financially untrustworthy, or betray them by financially exploiting their resources. Newlyweds and people in love want to see, and are in fact often blinded by, the glow of new love and excitement of courtship and a wedding. These traditional ceremonies and the experience of love itself can distract both parties from asking themselves the tough questions. During a whirlwind courtship or throughout the process of getting to know someone, it’s important to acknowledge your doubts.
Doubts can range from anything about them being a bridezilla or having too wild of a bachelor’s night. They can also be about financial concerns. People wonder if their partner will take advantage of them financially if their incomes are unequal. They wonder well they know their new fiancé; they might have fears about being used based on past relationships, too. If you are uncertain of marriage due to financial differences, sometimes a prenuptial agreement makes marriages possible that would not otherwise happen.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
According to Nolo’s legal dictionary, “A prenuptial agreement (“prenup” for short) is a written contract created by two people before they are married. A prenup typically lists all of the property each person owns (as well as any debts) and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage.” This document spells out the assets and debts that a couple brings to the table. It clarifies who is responsible for paying certain debts (many people getting prenups have them to indemnify them from their spouse’s debts). Many millennials graduated from college with hefty student loans and are signing prenups to keep their spouse from being liable for paying them.
In terms of assets, prenups often keep the assets separate from each party. Without a prenup, it would be assumed that both spouses have equal rights to sharing the property. The prenup would also state who owns what property and/or income and whether it goes to the spouse in the event of a divorce. Prenups can also be quite specific and address all the financial workings of a marriage, including who manages the money, who runs the credit and bank accounts, who inherits the property or income residuals, etc. Basically, the spouses will outline what is important to them for the financial health of a marriage.
My partner might be hesitant about getting a prenuptial agreement? What if I offend them?
When people marry, it’s a love arrangement and sign of commitment. However, in legal terms, it’s not quite that rosy since marriage also involves the unification of property in the binding contract. This is because marital agreements used to be predominantly about estates and empires — not love marriages, a phenomenon that happened relatively recently within the scope of history. That aside, a prenuptial agreement addresses the financial equation that is missing in the ordinary paperwork for a marriage.
There’s no way around the fact that requesting a prenup could offend a potential partner. It tends to make them bristle because they feel their loyalty and reasons for entering a relationship are being questioned. If one spouse has a lower income, this might already be a touchy subject. However, a fair prenuptial agreement can often be reached with mature discussions with legal advisors present.
How common are prenuptial agreements?
Prenuptial agreements are far more common than ever before. One reason for this is that people are often marrying more than once in life, or have children from a prior marriage. When it comes to people with children from other relationships, they often request prenups to establish or honor existing financial obligations to those children. In the reverse scenario, another partner may wish to declare that they do not want to support a partner’s extramarital children. Prenuptials are specific to the situation, so we can say more and more people are signing them as finances and relationships have never been uncomplicated.
Chances are that if you’ve looked this far into a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to you. Contact our offices today for personal guidance on this matter.