Do I Need A Prenup? A Relationship Coach's Guide to Understanding Prenuptial Agreements
Every couple who has ever decided to get married has had to deal with a slew of decisions: where to get married, to elope or host a large reception, to serve cake or have a first dance, to get married in the church or the great outdoors, and naturally, whether or not to invite that weird Great-Aunt who will bring an unwrapped dreamcatcher in lieu of a gift. Those are all personal decisions unique to the couple themselves, and can be decided upon for deeply private and personal reasons. No different, of course, is the decision of whether or not to have a prenuptial agreement.
What Is A Prenup?
A prenup is a written agreement a couple creates that dictates what would happen in the event of death or divorce. The agreed-upon prenup would override typical martial laws that govern division of assets, property, savings and retirement benefits. Like a marriage, a prenup is a legally-binding agreement. Although empirically, it was assumed that the only people who exercised their right to prenuptial agreements have been the wealthy and famous, couples of all kinds of financial backgrounds have chosen to structure their union with the additional support of a prenup.
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Why Get One?
Couples make this (deeply personal) decision based on a number of factors. Many couples don’t understand the full extent of what a prenup can offer, and therefore feel intimidated and forgo this option. Whether or not you choose to execute a prenup, it should never be due to a lack of knowledge or familiarity with the details. In the interest of learning, there are many reasons couples decide to enter into prenups (and none of the reasons are because they’re wealthy and famous). Some of those factors could include:
- Protecting family wealth or family business
- Trust funds or other inheritance
- Previous divorce settlements
- Protecting each other from previous debt
- Keeping family assets and heirlooms within the family
- Protecting the inheritance for children from a previous marriage
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Pros & Cons Of A Prenup
If you’re determining whether or not to present your partner with a prenuptial agreement in advance of your wedding, it’s a big decision that deserves some real consideration. This is not as simple as whether to serve chicken or fish to your wedding guests, and is an issue that cannot be solved with the aid of a Pinterest board (unlike just about every other marital problem!). So, we’ve decided to help you with some of the leg work. When considering the benefits and pitfalls of a prenup and what kind of effect (if any) it could have on your marriage, these are a few of the factors to consider:
- Additional examination and analysis of financial matters
- Preserves family ties and protects inheritance and lineage
- Children from previous marriages are protected financially
- Personal and business assets accrued before marriage are protected
- Airs out all the “skeletons in the closet” and puts everything on the table
- Eliminates the battles over finances in the event of divorce
- Can set the precedent of ‘planning for divorce’
- Can cause serious friction between partners
- Give the impression there is a lack of trust
- Not what most people consider a “romantic” gesture
- Can create resentment (from partner who was served with it to partner who requested it)
- Prenups can be nullified if all assets or financials aren’t properly disclosed
- Partner could choose not to sign, delaying the wedding
As many stigmas are being shed around weddings and marriage, the next generation is shedding the one around prenups. Prenups have always been shrouded in confusion and misunderstanding, but that is changing in the age of information. In addition to being the age of information, this is also well-known as the digital age, and we’re turning to digital devices for help with every part of the financial spectrum. From investing, to budgeting, to paying off debt, more of us are turning to our phones for financial guidance (as well as Candy Crush, of course).
Millennials are signing up for financial tools and apps like Mint, Wally, Acorns, and Tycoon at alarming rates. And many of them view a prenuptial agreement as an extension of these tools. Lawyers agree, urging young couples to think of prenups as a financial planner, just another way of mapping your economic strategy over the course of your union. (Yes, not as romantic as a hotel room covered in rose petals, but a good marriage is all about balance, right?)
Modern and millennial couples are causing a huge spike in the number of prenuptial agreements in recent years - and for a myriad of reasons. One of which is that they are delaying marriage, almost across the board. Since 2005, the median age at which both men and women married has jumped from 27 to 29.9 and 25.5 to 28.1 respectively, according to the US Census. This statistic tracks with the increase in prenups, as many young couples have already accrued more personal and business assets by the time they wed. Another reason more couples are opting in to prenups is that they themselves are the product of divorce. Children of divorce, understandably, have certain reservations about marriage, and are predisposed to protect themselves in the event of a dissolution.
Certain taboos are meant to be toppled. Couples are getting married later, spending less on their wedding day compared to the more ‘traditional’ celebrations of decades past, and more and more of them are opting into prenuptial arrangements. Some things about love and weddings are meant to be timeless: something borrowed, something blue, for example. Other things are meant to be improved upon and changed. Younger couples are ripping up the old playbooks and asking themselves how they want to start the rest of their life with someone, and that is a sentiment all of us can get behind! Although your Great-Aunt with the dreamcatcher might have some choice words about your, ahem, choices, times are changing! That means that you and your partner get to design exactly the wedding - and the marriage - that you want, prenups and all.
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