So, your future spouse has asked for a prenup – what now? Before you let any racing negative thoughts swirl around in your head, take a deep breath. It’s important to remember that prenups no longer carry the heavy stigma around them that they once did, and they are not just for celebrity couples anymore, either. Remember – this question doesn’t inherently mean that your partner has little faith in the idea of your marriage. Prenups are becoming increasingly popular these days, as they serve as an extremely smart and responsible step in protecting your personal finances. Before you panic, let’s take a moment to examine why prenups are gaining more traction, as well as all of the benefits that prenups can hold.
Why Prenups Are Losing Their Stigma
According to CNBC, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers ran a study, and found that more than half of lawyers surveyed saw an increase in prenups among millennials. Additionally, 62% saw a rise in prenups overall from 2013 to 2016. If you take a moment to consider the trends going on in modern society, this statistic makes perfect sense. No, it does not mean that fewer people are trusting their partners. Rather, there is a bit more at stake these days when it comes to finances and assets, and millennials would rather be transparent about their finances than go into a marriage blind
Let’s begin with the average age that individuals are tying the knot at. According to a report from The New York Times, the median age of marriage in 2017 was 29.5 for men and 27.4 for women. These numbers were up from 23 for men and 20.8 for women in 1970. As women have focused more on careers outside the home, it follows. that many are waiting longer to marry and potentially have children. While it was once the trend for women to be exclusively reliant on their husband’s income, this is no longer the case- women today prefer to make, manage, and spend their income as they please. According to AmericanProgress.com, around ⅔ of married mothers are employed at least part-time.
Due to the seemingly universal trend towards marrying a bit later in life in the United States, by the time millennials are ready to marry, it is more likely that they have acquired some of their own assets, like a home, a 401(k) and/or other investment accounts, stocks, a business, inheritance and more. Not only does that mean that engaged individuals have more to protect in the event of divorce, but thanks to sky-high student loans and an ever-increasing cost of living, the stakes of personal finances are more distressing than ever these days
Now that you have a read on why prenups are no longer viewed as exclusive to couples of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it’s also important to consider some of the benefits that prenups can hold before you completely poupou the idea.
No, when your partner inquired about a prenup, it didn’t mean that they were convinced that you’re a gold digger, or that your marriage won’t last. Actually, it could mean quite the opposite. Studies have shown that couples who have up-front conversations about money are less likely to go through a divorce, and enjoy overall happier marriages. In fact, individuals who claim to be enjoying a “great” marriage are almost twice as likely to speak with their spouse about money daily or weekly.
Drafting a prenup sets up financial expectations even before your marriage officially begins. Marriages are designed to last a lifetime, which leaves plenty of time for assets and debts to be acquired. Prenups sort out what will happen to these assets in the event of a divorce, so that you don’t have to worry about it when you may be going through the emotional hardships of one. It’s no secret that divorces, well frankly, suck. The turmoil and heartbreak surrounding a divorce is often guaranteed to bring out the worst in both parties and a prenup ensures a fair financial division if the time for it to be put to action ever comes about.
Protection for the Less Wealthy Spouse
In fact, a prenuptial agreement can protect the less wealthy spouse as well. Are you coming into the marriage with fewer assets, a lot of debt, or plan to be a stay at home parent? A prenuptial agreement can protect you by ensuring all assets do not remain your spouse’s separate property, or allowing your prenuptial agreement to dissolve at a certain wedding anniversary (commonly called a “sunset clause).
Handling the Conversation
Okay, so hopefully you’re on board with the opinion that prenups really aren’t malevolent. Now that you’ve read through the sound and logical reasoning behind why your spouse might want one, it’s time to decide how you want to proceed. Even though a single party made the prenup request, the entire prenup drafting experience is one that is meant to work uniquely and specifically for you as a couple (just like your marriage!). Remember, talking about finances prior to marriage is always beneficial to your relationship
Think of It Like A Business Move
Any business-minded person can tell you – you simply don’t start a venture without an exit strategy. Sure, it’s not especially romantic to think of your marriage like a business, but it is, after all, a contract that you are signing to stick things out, through thick and thin. If you went in on a business or stock options with someone, you’d ensure that you had a contract in place to clarify what would happen at the dissolution of said business. Basically, a prenup is simply an insurance plan for you (and your current/future family) to protect your financial stability in case something unexpected were to happen later
Talk About It
Time and time again, simply talking about what is bothering you, or how you want to move forward, seems to be the answer to so many problems that arise between lovers. If you’re feeling uneasy about your partner’s prenup request, we cannot stress how essential it is to talk to them about your feelings, rather than bottle them up. Even if you agree to the prenup but still feel uncomfortable about it, it holds plenty of opportunity to blossom into a source of tension later down the road.
While it’s imperative to be transparent about your feelings surrounding the prenup, it’s even more important to take the time to think through what you’d like to voice to your partner. Blowing up at them out of insecurity or anger isn’t going to solve anything, but unnecessarily raises tensions. If you feel even the least bit uncomfortable with the ask, it will help to plan out, or even write down, some of the main points you’d like to bring up to your partner. Be sure to allow ample time for your partner to respond to each point you raise, and for a discussion to take place around it. If you are really struggling with the entire situation, you may want to reach out to a couples’ therapist or “prenuptial agreement planning mediator” (yes, they exist!) to help facilitate the discussion. Remember, hiring a therapist or mediator does not mean that you are a failure as a couple, but rather that you are smart and willing to take the initiative and work towards a positive future together. A therapist/mediator may serve as a welcomed third party who can help you both on the same page.
Not Sure About the Legal Side of Things? Seek The Assistance of an Attorney
Once you have worked through the more emotional side of things, be it with the help of friends, family members, or a therapist/mediator, it’s time to move onto the more practical steps. Even if you’re not fully sold on the concept of a prenup yet, you may find a huge benefit in consulting with a lawyer who is well-versed in the art of prenups. Doing so can answer any legal concerns you have, and help formulate a solution. After all, there is probably nothing less ideal than spending all of the time and emotional effort to draft a prenup, only for it to end up not being enforceable in court, or contains terms you did not fully understand. To ensure you’re drafting up a watertight prenup that you feel comfortable with, it is a smart idea to consult with or hire an attorney
The thing is, and this likely isn’t news to you – lawyers aren’t exactly cheap. Typically, they charge by the hour, so the more questions you have, the faster you can say “goodbye” to your money. That’s where HelloPrenup comes in. HelloPrenup takes an approach to building a prenup in tangent with your partner, completely online. Once your initial information is filled out, you will work to design a prenup together that is just as unique and tailored as you would like. We prioritize communication and have instilled an Issue Identification process that cites places where you and your partners’ wishes are inconsistent with each other.
Yes, our option is affordable and very simple. And, you still have the option to hire an attorney to review your prenup, make changes to the prenup document, or answer any questions you have before signing it. In fact, this may be a creative solution to keep the cost down. While an attorney isn’t mandatory, hiring one can be a crucial step in ensuring you understand the terms and legal ramifications of your agreement.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story? No, the suggestion of a prenup does not indicate that your relationship is bound for an ugly divorce, or that your spouse doesn’t trust you. Considering all that is at stake in today’s economic landscape, a prenup is a smart thing to put in place, as long as both of you are completely comfortable with it. Be open with and willing to listen to your partner as you figure out how you want to proceed with a prenup, and when it comes time to execute on it, HelloPrenup is here to help.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].