Is it a good idea to sign a prenuptial contract before tying the knot? What are the pros and cons of prenups?
- The most common reason couples fight is finances. Getting it all out on the table upfront will help with discussing financial matters down the road.
- Couples should consider spending habits: If one person spends irresponsibly and the other is frugal and responsible, there may be a need for something in writing.
- Prenups offer protection of current and future inheritances.
- A prenup protects a business or businesses owned by either spouse.
- They can actually facilitate effective communication.
- However, if both parties are young and starting out with relatively equal contributions, it doesn’t seem to make sense to sign a prenup. It erodes trust immediately and can leave one partner feeling suspicious as to the motives of the other.
- A prenup may imply that the marriage is temporary.
- You don’t want any of its provisions to be a burden for either party if circumstances change.
- It can be a marriage deal-breaker if you can’t agree on a provision.
What a prenup can do
A marriage is a contract and there are safeguards that can protect both parties if there’s a breach. A prenup can be seen as a contract before the contract. The content can vary, but the most common provisions discuss assets and property division, as well as spousal support if the couple separates, divorces or either spouse dies. Among common provisions are:
- Division of property on divorce.
- Distribution of property on death.
- Ownership of the marital residence.
- Defined premarital and marital property.
- Responsibility for premarital debts.
- Alimony obligations.
- Provisions for children from previous relationships.
Whether or not you think a prenup takes the romance out of marriage, there’s no denying that it makes sure that during a marital crisis, the most crucial steps have already been taken care of.
However, timing is essential. A prenup isn’t something one half of a couple should spring on the other right before the rehearsal dinner, so discussions should be held well in advance, in consultation with attorneys. Premarital counseling is also a good idea, to make sure everyone is on the same page with finances, for example.
Preparing a prenup asks the members of a couple to think about divorce at the very moment they’re making a lifetime commitment to each other.
If a prenup is something only one of you wants, this may be a thorn to the bliss. Is there family money involved — does that mean one of you is worried the other is a fortune hunter? Probably not, but the request may make you feel this way. A prenup means not only thinking of legal matters, but also of emotional ones.
Hire your own lawyer — don’t sign anything without legal representation. And make a note of any issues that arise — these are issues a couple should discuss with each other, and with a counselor as necessary.