If you’re recently engaged, you may be thinking about getting a prenup. A prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup, is a legally binding contract between you and your partner. It outlines what will happen if you get divorced or if one spouse dies. Typically, prenups determine what will happen to both parties’ current or future assets, including property and debt. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be severely in debt or super rich to get one.
Getting a prenup is a personal decision that you and your partner should make together. Although it can protect your children and important property, like family heirlooms, there is some stigma around getting a prenup. In this post, we will explore some of the ways a prenup is helpful and some of the ways it isn’t so helpful. Of course, this isn’t official legal advice. If you are considering a prenup, you and your partner should speak with a lawyer who specializes in this topic. In the meantime, here are some things to consider before making your decision.
You’re protected from your partner’s debt
Debt that you bring into a marriage usually stays your own. But debt that’s acquired during the marriage is usually considered shared debt. Getting a prenup can protect you from any loans or debt that your spouse acquires during the marriage. For example, most states view student loans as community debt—as long as those loans were taken out while you two were married. In the event of divorce, you’d be responsible for half of the loans. But a prenup can protect you from the responsibility of debt that you didn’t specifically acquire.
Prenups aren’t romantic
Of course, there’s something romantic in sharing everything. Yes, even debt. After all, your wedding vows might say something about staying together for richer or for poorer. And because you get a prenup before you’re married, creating such clear boundaries can feel unromantic. You’re working up to merging your lives—you don’t want anything getting in the way of that! Especially while you’re picking out a venue and sending save the dates. Thinking about separating is the least romantic thing.
It protects your children
Prenups aren’t all about money, though. At least not just your money. If you have children from a previous relationship, a prenup can protect their assets. Typically, a prenup ensures that your children from a previous relationship are entitled to the assets you acquired before your current marriage. Of course, you can discuss what assets those children might get from your current marriage, too.
Getting a prenup also protects those children in case you die. In the event of death, the surviving spouse typically gets everything, and they would determine how much the stepkids get. But the prenup can protect your children from a previous relationship from divorce, death, and everything in between.
Prenups aren’t foolproof
There are a lot of things you can put into a prenup—they are as personal as the couples creating them. But no prenup is entirely foolproof. For starters, every state has different requirements for prenups. While each state recognizes prenups in a general sense, you have to make sure you create a prenup that is valid according to state laws.
Prenups don’t always determine alimony, either. You can absolutely put alimony verbiage in your prenup. Some couples agree that neither party will pursue alimony, while other couples choose to guarantee a minimum alimony amount. However, it’s important to recognize that a judge can overrule a prenup’s alimony agreement if they believe that it’s unfair.
You and your partner will talk about money
Money can be a huge stressor in a marriage. You and your partner can have different spending and saving habits or you can have different budget styles. None of this is bad—but it’s definitely something you should talk about before you tie the knot. Well, getting a prenup can help you do just that! You’ll be talking about assets, debt, and investments while you create the document, so you can really start to explore your individual relationships with money. This can help ease future tension around money and can lead to fewer financial shocks down the road, too.
Thinking about divorce can be difficult
It’s helpful to talk about money before marriage. But talking about divorce? It isn’t always as beneficial. Most, if any, couples don’t go into a marriage expecting it to fail, and planning for divorce can certainly feel like you’re failing before you’ve even tried. This gets compounded when you’re recently engaged and planning a wedding. Stress levels are already high, and now you’re talking about money and divorce! If you do decide to get a prenup, we recommend giving yourself plenty of time before your wedding. This lets you take breaks as you need them and keeps you focused on the most important thing—each other.
You can protect certain assets, like a family heirloom or your business
Prenups establish who owns what before marriage. For some partners, that list might be short. But for others, it might contain something valuable. For example, you might have a family heirloom that you want to keep in the family—no matter what. Even in divorce, the centuries-old grandfather clock stays with you.
A prenup can also protect your business. Your partner will likely be entitled to some of the profits post-nuptial. But with a prenup, you can establish the business’ value pre-nuptial. Then, you can make sure that the premarital value is not split with your partner after a divorce—only the post-nuptial value is.
Prenups cost money
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that prenups cost money. But the actual cost of a prenup can be shocking. According to Business Insider, a typical prenup costs an average of $2,500 for couples with straightforward finances. But more complicated agreements can cost as much as $10,000. If getting a prenup is something you and your partner want, we recommend budgeting for $2,500 and then speaking with a lawyer for a specific estimate. (Keep in mind that an estimate will cost money, too!)
Not every couple wants a prenup, and not every couple gets a prenup. It’s a personal decision that every couple should make. But it is something that every couple should consider. While it can feel unromantic or stressful to plan for a divorce, divorce does happen. And getting a prenup can save you the stress and emotional distress of dividing everything up at the end. Of course, plenty of couples do that, too. There’s no wrong answer—only the answer that’s wrong for your relationship.
Would you consider getting a prenup? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us below!