We all know what it feels like to lose something (pride, personal property, etc.) due to the deterioration of a relationship. Maybe your ex-roommate kept the dishes (even though you bought them) or perhaps an ex-girlfriend kept all of the good stuff, including your favorite baseball sweats from college…I digress. But what happens when the stakes are bigger? What if estates, family finances, and investments are on the line?
Various forms of statistical evidence have found that roughly 50% of marriages will end in divorce1. I’ve got better odds of winning our weekly poker tournament than I do of having lasting wedded bliss. Of course, separation between two people (usually) sucks; imagine having kids or owning a business. Not to mention the credit issues that will inevitably arise concerning the outstanding debts. With the success of marriage up for grabs, protecting yourself (and your assets) becomes a legitimate concern. Enter: the prenup.
Prenuptial agreements have a pretty shady reputation, thanks in large part to the use and abuse they publicly incur and the hands of the rich and famous. Many people view them as a taboo subject that demonstrates a certain lack of faith in the impending union. The idea of protecting assets that you shouldn’t be afraid to lose (according to the unfailing and resolute institution of marriage) has occasionally come across as shallow. But, if we take a closer, un-celebritized look at these legal documents, there’s quite a bit of merit to them.
According to the lawyers at Gill Law, a prenup is a smart way to acknowledge the financial gravity of marriage. For those who marry later in life or have children, a prenuptial agreement is a legally sound way to ensure that all parties are secure. When it’s spelled out like that, these agreements don’t sound all that bad. Prenups don’t predict marital doom any more than car insurance predicts an accident; they are simply a smart way to protect yourself (and loved ones) from the unknown. There is definitely a right way (and a million wrong ways) to approach bringing this idea up to your significant other.
So do you need a prenuptial agreement?
Maybe…maybe not. It really does vary on a case-by-case basis. Not every married couple will get a divorce, and not every girl that wants to marry Hugh Hefner is a gold-digger; but let’s be honest, some will and most are. If you have assets, kids, or a booming business, it’s worth considering a prenuptial agreement to secure the things in life that you’ve worked hard for.
If you’ve been divorced (and are considering giving married life another college-try) drafting a prenup should be at the top of your list. This isn’t your first rodeo; hopefully you learned a couple of things the first time you were wed. People grow apart, feelings change, and life gets in the way; it just happens. This time around, be proactive instead of reactive and cover your bases.
Bringing up the whole idea doesn’t have to be an awkward, difficult conversation. Just put on your big kid shorts and bring up the idea WELL IN ADVANCE of any wedding talk. Presuming the person you are marrying loves you, they’ll be able to understand your motivation. Let them know that you are only taking a precaution; that it’s not the Grim Reaper for your relationship. Don’t beat around the bush, or act half-hearted about it, and DO NOT blame your parents (I’m talking to you trust-fund babies!). Just because mom and dad want you to get a prenup does not give you license to use them as a cop-out—make your own decision and stick to it.
If your future spouse isn’t exactly thrilled by your suggestion, give them some empathy. Let them know that you are only trying to secure everybody’s future, not doom your marriage. If you want to require your wife to maintain a certain weight or your husband to watch only one football game on a Sunday per season (yes, these are real examples2); then expect your ridiculousness to be met with what it deserves—including an exclusive invitation to go pound sand.
Josh Redfield is a mountain biking junkie. When he’s not out on an epic ride, you can find him utilizing his law degree to write about any matter of legality that causes a ruckus.