It’s so much easier to think about wedding dresses, centerpieces and a magical venue when you’ve decided to get engaged – rather than prenups. But with 40 to 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce, it’s unrealistic not to consider this possibility when contemplating marriage. However, it can be an even more uncomfortable conversation when one partner wants a prenup and the other doesn’t. There are many compassionate ways to help bridge this divide and approach this issue in a collaborative manner so that both parties are equally protected.
Freedom of Choice
Prenuptial agreements are powerful tools that can be used to protect property interests in many situations- including divorce and death. They can protect pre-marital assets, and ensure that the inheritance of one party is not included in the marital estate in the event of a divorce. Rather than joint property (think house, savings accounts, etc) being split according to a judge’s order, couples can agree that certain assets will be distributed according to their wishes.
And the “D Word.” You know what most millennials have at least $10,000 of? Debt. Specifically, debt from college or debt from graduate school. A prenuptial agreement can protect you and your soon-to-be spouse from each other’s educational debt and school loans. Why does this matter? Because nobody wants to be awarded more school loans in the event of a divorce.
Alimony is another hot-button issue: couples can choose to waive alimony in the future, or not. That’s the beauty of a prenup: the freedom to make these choices, rather than the imposition of a judge’s order in the future. Surely, whether you were in favor of a prenup or not, you can appreciate the benefit of choice.
Fears Surrounding Prenups
Some people have firmly planted fears about prenups. They may be superstitious and think that if they open their minds to the possibility that there ever could be a divorce that this will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. They may also worry about bringing up this unromantic topic during a loving period in their lives. They may be afraid that being asked to sign a prenup is a sign that they are perceived as a gold digger or are not trusted. They may also think that a more financially sophisticated partner may try to take advantage of them. Talking through some of these fears with a licensed therapist can be helpful in bridging this divide, and open up lines of communication. After all, a happy marriage requires good communication.
A Better Option for Prenups
It is no mystery as to why prenuptial agreements have been notoriously considered adversarial documents. We get it- calling a divorce and family lawyer, to discuss a prenup with your future-spouse’s family lawyer, while planning your wedding can seem daunting, expensive, and even downright uncomfortable at times. In addition, legal ethics rules prohibit one lawyer from representing both partners, adding to the perceived inherent conflict. With HelloPrenup, working together to form a prenup can be a collaborative effort. We believe a prenup can be crafted in a way to protect both parties’ interests, and to create a responsible plan while the parties are in love, rather than in a bitter state that is common during divorce. HelloPrenup offers an online tool for couples to use in collaboration, and avoids the often one-sided document that emerges from one partner’s lawyer’s office.