Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

By Arlene G. Dubin

Popping the “P” Word:
Bringing up the topic of a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse might be the most important conversation you have before your wedding. Many people are hesitant to even mention prenups much less discuss them with their future spouses, because of the numerous preconceived notions about them. Contrary to popular belief, prenups can be romantic. What many people don’t realize is that a discussion about prenups can actually be an excellent way to learn more about you and your spouse’s expectations, hopes and dreams about your life together. They open lines of communication at the onset, which helps create the foundation necessary for a mutually fulfilling relationship.

Who Should Sign a Prenup?
Anyone who’s getting married. Prenups are for anyone with a business, a professional license or practice, or any assets or debts, which probably covers just about everyone. Whether you have high assets or are just starting out, have children or don’t, there are dozens of reasons a prenup is beneficial to you and your spouse. Here are just a few:

  • To establish the value of non-monetary contributions to a marriage, such as being a stay at home spouse and making career sacrifices
  • To protect gifts and inheritances you receive
  • To cover your pre-marriage nest egg (such as your home, pension plan, stock portfolio, or property with emotional value)
  • To ensure that in the event of death or divorce, you will avoid difficult disputes over property (such as family businesses, stock options, professional degrees, licenses and practices, pension plans, and copyrights) –To ensure that children from a prior marriage receive their intended inheritance
  • To ensure that children from a prior marriage receive their intended inheritance

Dispelling Some Common Prenup Myths:

  1. A prenup jinxes the marriage.
    Would you say that buying life insurance or writing a will jinxes a person’s life expectancy? Just like these are precautionary measures, so too, you can view your prenup as divorce insurance without annual premiums. If you consider the high incidence of divorce in the general population, a prenup seems like an exceptionally good preventative measure.
  2. Prenups are bad for women:
    Prenups can actually empower women by ensuring that nonmonetary contributions–such as being a “stay-at-home mom” will be valued. A prenup can provide that you will receive proper compensation if you make a career sacrifice to raise your children.
  3. A Prenup says “I don’t trust you.”
    In reality, a prenup says “I trust you so much that I can share even my most intimate secrets with you.” It is well a known fact that many people are intensely private about their money. Yet, in order for a court to uphold a prenup, both parties must be fully informed about each other’s assets. You and your partner disclose the full extent of your assets and your debts, which can only be done from a place of trust.

When is the best time to bring up the “P” word?
Dropping a prenup in your lover’s lap a week before the wedding is definitely not the appropriate time to bring up this important conversation! Conversations about financial concerns and expectations early on in your relationship will increase the chances of an everlasting marriage because you’ve already done a lot of the hard work. Your engagement is the optimal time to come up with a fair and balanced agreement, since you and your future spouse are already looking out for one another’s best interests, as opposed to later on when your judgment could be clouded with anger or hostility during a divorce.

REMEMBER: Once you talk about the big bugaboo — money, it usually opens the door to other subjects and brings you closer together. If you resolve touchy issues and put them behind you, you can go on with your relationship — romantically.

The foregoing are helpful tips taken from Prenups For Lovers by Arlene G. Dubin (Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 2001). The book deals with the “how’s” and “why’s” of signing a prenup, by discussing when, where and how to bring up the topic and the major benefits of prenups. The book also offers sample clauses, real-life profiles, celebrity tidbits and checklists to make sure that there will be no court after the courtship. Special sections are devoted to women, young and mature lovers, cohabitants and married couples. For more information on Prenups For Lovers, please see Prenups for Lovers: A Romantic Guide to Prenuptial Agreements.