Nothing can kill a romantic mood faster than bringing up the word prenup. According to the Gevurtz Menashe Family Law Glossary of Legal Terms a prenuptial agreement is defined as:
“A written contract between two people prior to marriage, laying out the terms of the marriage in case it should later dissolve. Terms regarding current individual assets, future earnings, and property are examples of issues included in the contract.”
Bringing up the word prenup amongst a group of people and you’re likely to get the same type of reaction when as talking about religion and politics. But step back and consider that 1/3 of all first marriages and 1/2 of all second marriages fail and you can see how prenups are almost like marriage insurance.
Experts say that prenups are looked down upon because of the emotions that are involved. No one goes into a marriage expecting it to fail. Everyone also thinks that their marriage is special, which could very well be the case, but according to the hard data it is in jeopardy of failing.
If you’re considering a prenup or just want to learn more about what they are read on to find out:
- Who needs a prenup
- How to approach the subject
- Legal benefits
- Proper procedure
Who Needs a Prenup?
Many people think prenups are exclusively for the rich but experts agree that they should be considered by people who:
- Have assets such as a home, stocks, and retirement accounts
- Own a business
- Are receiving an inheritance
- Have children from a prior marriage
- One person is much wealthier than the other
- Is pursuing a degree that may lead to a lucrative career
If you fall into some or all of these categories you should consider a prenuptial agreement. As you can see from the list above most of middle class America fits the profile of people who should think about a premarital agreement.
How to Approach the Subject
Timing is important. It’s best to do it before you get engaged. You also don’t want to broach the subject on your first date. Once the relationship gets serious you’ll want to discuss it. If you’ve been open and honest about the relationship then your potential spouse should be more open to receive it.
When you bring up the subject be very open and honest. It’s not very romantic but marriage is as much about realistic communication and compromise as it is romance.
Legal Benefits of a Prenup
Having a prenup can save you from a long and messy divorce. Without a prenup you can lose all the power of where your wealth goes and it may be decided by the courts. Who would you rather make decisions about where your wealth goes; you or the court system? An agreement should be considered especially if you live in one of the nine community property states where all assets that were collected during the marriage are split 50/50 even if one spouse did all the work.
Prenups can be virtually powerless if they are not constructed the right way following the correct guidelines. Director Steven Spielberg had a prenup but it was scribbled on a napkin and his wife had no lawyer. The result was that she got $100 million from him and they were married only four years.
You should use marriage attorneys to help you draft the document as they are familiar with the laws and how to write prenups. It is also important to get it all in writing and have it signed in front of your attorneys as witnesses. The bride and groom should get an original copy each with a third copy going to the attorneys.