Why do people get prenups? Well, that usually depends on who you ask. If you asked Catherine Zeta-Jones why she got a prenup, she might say she wanted to protect herself against infidelity and make sure she was taken care of financially in the case of a divorce. If you asked Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s children why they want to get a prenup, they would probably say to protect their future inheritance(s) from mom and dad. It all depends on your financial goals and specific situation. Not sure if you’re someone who needs a prenup? Keep reading to see just 20 reasons why people get prenups below!
1. To safeguard pre-existing assets
One of the primary reasons people opt for a prenuptial agreement is to protect their pre-existing assets. Maybe you’re in your mid-30’s, and you’ve already accumulated a solid amount of wealth, such as real estate or retirement accounts. A prenup can specify how these pre-marital assets will be divided in case of divorce, preventing future disputes over property. A prenup may also define the separate property status of certain assets, ensuring that they are not considered joint property and are protected from division in a divorce.
2. To protect future assets
Many people ask us about future assets, and yes, they can be protected in a prenup. In fact, many people get prenups before having any assets at all. Think about Jeff Bezos. We’d probably guess he wishes he thought about those potential future assets before getting married, sans prenup. A prenup can specify how these assets will be divided in case of divorce, helping to avoid future disputes. By anticipating future asset accumulation and providing a framework for dividing assets, a prenup can help protect the financial security of both partners.
3. To protect income
Income is another important factor that can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement. Future income (a.k.a. income received during the marriage) may include salary, commission, bonuses, rental property income, dividends, and much more. A prenup can specify how you and your partner’s income will be divided in case of divorce. By addressing income in a prenup, individuals can get peace of mind and help to avoid any financial surprises in the event of a separation.
4. To define spousal support obligations
Prenups also may provide clarity for obligations regarding spousal support (a.k.a. alimony) in case of divorce. Whether you are on the side of wanting future alimony or wanting to avoid future alimony, there is likely something you can agree on with your future spouse in a prenup. For example, some people may choose to waive spousal support altogether, or they might leave it up to a judge to decide. Other people may include a cap on the support (no more than $X or limiting where the income may be calculated from).
5. To clarify financial obligations during marriage
Prenups are not only for divorce obligations but also for marriage obligations. That’s right; a prenup can provide clarity for financial responsibilities during the marriage and after the marriage ends. How? Well, a prenup can include defining each partner’s contributions to household expenses, joint accounts, and other financial responsibilities. A prenup can also specify how financial decisions will be made and what steps will be taken in case of financial disputes. By clarifying these issues in advance, individuals can avoid misunderstandings and ensure that each spouse is aware of their financial obligations.
6. To define debt ownership
Protecting yourself against your partner’s debt is another reason why people often get prenups these days. Prenups can provide clarity for debt ownership in the event of a divorce. This can include specifying which partner is responsible for paying off pre-existing debts, as well as debts acquired during the marriage. By addressing debt in a prenup, people can feel at ease that they won’t be responsible for their partner’s staggering student loan debt or online shopping addiction in the event of a divorce.
7. To protect businesses
Many people choose to protect their businesses in their prenup, and for a good reason. In a divorce, your business is not necessarily “safe.” Your spouse could end up taking a portion of the value of your business, depending on your state and situation. In a prenup, you can make sure to declare your businesses (or future businesses) as separate property. This can help give you peace of mind and financial security in your future.
8. To protect future inheritances
Expecting a nice chunk of change from Grandma Sue when she dies? A prenup can provide protection for those future inheritances. You can specify in your prenup whether or not inheritances will be treated as separate property. If you deem your inheritance separate property, then it will not be divisible in a divorce.
9. To protect future gifts
The same goes for gifts. Do you have loving parents or grandparents that love to give you large gifts? Are you expecting any generous wedding gifts from friends or family? Maybe every year for your birthday, your Great Aunt Jane sends you $10,000 (she never had kids of her own, so she loves to spoil you!). You can protect future gifts by making sure they are considered your separate property alone (and not your spouse’s).
10. To protect their pets
Ever wondered what happens to Fluffy in a divorce? Well, sometimes it’s not pretty. Many states still treat pets as property and will assign ownership of a pet based on traditional property principles, like “who bought it?” In a prenup, pet owners can rest assured that their little fur baby is safe and sound in case the worst happens. This means you may lay out specifically in a prenup who should be the owner of which pet in the case of divorce.
11. To protect their confidentiality
In the digital age, many folks want to protect their confidentiality in a prenup. Whether you want to keep the prenup contents secret or general information about your life secret, you can do so with a confidentiality clause. For example, maybe you have a trust fund or business, and it’s listed in your prenup, but you do not want this to become public knowledge. A confidentiality clause can help make sure your partner is legally prohibited from divulging this information.
12. To protect their social image
Again, another digital age issue is the social image. Nowadays, everything is on social media. You can pretty much find out anything about anyone in a matter of seconds, thanks to social media. You can now require your spouse to refrain from sharing damaging content about you on their social media. If they do choose to post something humiliating about you, you can require them to pay you. It might look something like this in your prenup, “If either spouse posts humiliating content of the other on their social media, the posting spouse will be required to pay the humiliated spouse $10,000 [or insert any other amount].” You can sleep soundly at night with this one, for sure!
13. To address infidelity
Disclaimer: infidelity clauses in prenups are often not upheld, meaning that courts will not abide by them. Including an infidelity clause could even risk invalidating your entire prenup. However, there are some states that may be more inclined to uphold this type of clause, so the infidelity clause lives. Many lawyers will strongly, strongly advise against this clause. Nonetheless, people (especially celebrities) still include infidelity clauses in their prenups. An infidelity clause basically says, “no cheating, but if you do, you pay me $X.”
14. To protect children from another relationship
If someone has kids from another marriage or relationship, they may want to include provisions in their prenup that ensure their hard-earned wealth goes to their children and not their new lover. People that have been down the divorce road may be especially inclined to get a prenup to make sure their assets are protected for their kids’ sake. They’ve seen the repercussions of asset division in a divorce and understand how their partner can actually take assets away from their kids.
For example, people may elect to include a death clause in their prenup which essentially points to estate documents. So, the death clause would say something like, “If I die, my half of the marital estate should go to whoever is listed in my will and not my spouse.” Be careful, though, state laws surrounding estate planning can vary, and sometimes this may not work in your state.
15. To simplify the divorce process
Many people are terrified of the “D” word (divorce, that is). Divorce is expensive, emotionally draining, and time-consuming. A prenup can help clear up some of those worries by simplifying the divorce process. With a prenup, you can decide on many of the big topics of divorce (such as alimony, asset division, and debt division). With these issues pre-determined, you have a much easier divorce process. Without a prenup, you may be spending lots of time, money, and energy “fighting” over these issues that could have been decided in a prenup when you two were still happy.
16. To minimize legal fees and court costs
While we’re on the topic of stressful divorces, it’s important to mention the money you can save with a prenup. Sure, prenups aren’t free, but paying for a prenup can still be cheaper than going through a lengthy divorce process, especially if you get a prenup with HelloPrenup for just $599 per couple! Fighting over issues in a divorce can cost you thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and court costs!
17. To provide peace of mind
Prenups minimize your time spent in the courtroom and protect your wallet. But they also protect your sanity. According to the Life Change Index Scale, divorce is the second most stressful event that a person can experience right after losing a spouse to death. Saving time, money, and sanity; I mean, what more could you want? Prenups are a triple threat!
18. To address unequal wealth in a relationship
Many folks inaccurately believe that prenups only protect the wealthier person, and it’s simply not true! Prenups can also protect the lesser-earning spouse or a stay-at-home parent. There are wealth equalization clauses that many people can add to their prenups, like lump sum payments and separate property phase-in clauses. You can also make sure alimony is provided, and the less wealthy spouse is allowed to remain in the marital residence. Remember, a prenup should be reasonably fair, and each person should feel financially stable after executing a prenup.
19. To facilitate expectation setting prior to marriage
A major reason people get prenups is to set expectations. Sure, they may also get a prenup to protect their assets, but the process of creating a prenup can help make sure both spouses are on the same financial page, so to speak. This may be especially useful for folks who are not the best at communicating. For example, let’s say you have a spouse that is significantly wealthier than you. You have fully expected them to take care of the bills and expenses during marriage. In a prenup, you can make sure that this is included and worked out, so you both understand what your financial roles are during the marriage.
20. To share finances
Ever wondered what was really lurking behind the metaphorical financial curtain? How much money does your future spouse actually have? What about debt? Sure, you’ve guys breezed over finances, but you’ve never actually seen the bank account. When you get a prenup, this is uncovered through the process of financial disclosure, which requires full and fair sharing of finances. There is no skimping or hiding here. You can’t just include your debt but not your $100,000 investment account. And if you do withhold any financial information, you’re probably looking at an invalid prenup.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]