Are prenuptial marriage agreements a death knell for romance? Or are prenuptial agreements practical solutions to dealing with the problematic topic of finances in a marriage?
More and more couples are signing prenuptial marriage agreements before they marry. They are even more popular when couples are remarrying for the second time. These are not just couples dealing with financial inequality, or couples who have a lot of wealth. These are couples who want to put all their financial cards on the table before they walk down the aisle.
What Is a Prenuptial Marriage Agreement?
A prenuptial marriage agreement is a signed and notarized contract that spells out how a couple will handle the financial aspects of their marriage. Although not very romantic, having this honest financial discussion prior to a wedding ceremony can be a very positive experience.
According to the website FindLaw.com, "Premarital agreements (also called prenuptial agreements or "prenups") are a common legal step taken before marriage. A prenup establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. So while no one is thinking about a divorce when they get married, about half of all marriages in America end up in divorce proceedings. So it's often prudent to at least consider a prenuptial agreement."
Pros of Prenuptial Agreements
- Having a prenuptial marriage agreement does not mean that a couple is anticipating a divorce.
- Financial matters that need to be faced are faced.
- Prenuptial agreements can preserve family ties and inheritance.
- If your future spouse won't sign a prenuptial marriage agreement, it may be best to discover this before the wedding.
- The financial well-being of children from a previous marriage can be protected.
- Personal and business assets accumulated before your marriage are protected.
- A prenup puts financial expectations out on the table before your wedding.
- A prenuptial marriage agreement spells out which assets a spouse may want to give to children or other family members in the event of death.
- In the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement eliminates battles over assets and finances.
Cons of Prenuptial Agreements
- Prenuptial marriage agreements can be set aside for failure to disclose all assets, or if there is evidence of fraud, duress, unfairness, or lack of representation at the time of signing the agreement.
- They are unromantic and can cause serious friction in the relationship.
- Prenups can give the appearance that there is a lack of trust between the partners.
- A prenuptial agreement could create resentment between spouses.
- A prenuptial marriage agreement makes it seem like there is a lack of a lifetime commitment to one another.
- Some people look at doing a prenup as "planning the divorce" before "planning the wedding."
History of Prenuptial Agreements:
Nuptial agreements have been around for thousands of years. During the 19th century, before the Married Women's Property Act of 1848, the agreements were necessary for women in the United States. Until the act became law, everything a woman owned or inherited was transferred to her husband. If he died or divorced her, she could lose everything.
Community Property States
Community property states in the United States are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and the territory of Puerto Rico. Their laws state that property accumulated during a marriage would be divided equally in the event of a divorce. Other states have a policy of dividing assets on an equitable distribution basis.
Things to Remember About Prenuptial Agreements
- Discuss the agreement early in your relationship. Do not wait until you are ready to walk down the aisle.
- Be honest. Do not try to hide your thoughts, feelings or assets.
- Hire separate attorneys so you both have good representation.
- Consider asking both lawyers to supply an affidavit of independent legal counsel. Keep the affidavits with the original prenuptial document.
What If You Both Completely Disagree on Getting a Prenuptial Agreement?
If one of you is completely against getting the prenup and the partner is completely adamant about getting one, you may end up breaking up. It's unfortunate if you can come to some agreement that is fair to both of you, but sometimes that is the case. Only you can decide if this bone of contention is a deal breaker for you.