Did you know couples in the military rank the highest likelihood of divorcing by 30 than any other industry? If you’re in the military, you should definitely consider a prenup. Actually, you should consider a prenup no matter what, but there are special considerations for service members. Here’s why.
Purpose of a prenuptial agreement
First, let’s start off with the purpose of a prenup. It’s important to understand the basics of a prenup, so you can truly understand why there’s a need for it within the military industry. A prenuptial agreement allows you to outline property division, such as what would happen to real estate, bank accounts, retirement funds, inheritances, and more. Along the same vein of property division is debt; do you want to protect yourself from your partner’s debt, or vice versa? If the answer is “yes,” then you should consider a prenup. What about alimony? You may outline certain alimony (i.e., spousal support or maintenance) limitations or even eliminate them altogether. On top of all of that, there are a handful of other clauses you can include, such as confidentiality clauses, pet clauses, and sometimes even infidelity clauses (much of this depends on your state law). Prenups are an excellent way to make sure your finances are in order if things ever do go south, which is why we like to call it “marriage insurance.”
The cherry on top? Prenups are also an excellent tool for communication. The process of getting a prenup facilitates open communication and alignment of goals. Everything is on the table, warts and all. It’s truly a way to get a deeper understanding of your partner.
Getting married younger
It’s no secret that military couples tend to wed earlier than couples in other industries. One major reason for this is the services and benefits to military spouses, such as housing and allowances. Younger military couples may not have as many assets and think a prenup isn’t necessary. That’s just not true! Prenups can also protect your future assets, like inheritances or future accumulated property. Most people don’t have much when they’re ~20 years old, but by the time they’re ~40, the average American has accumulated about $27,000. And that’s just the average!
There’s more to a prenup than just protecting assets. Think about debt. Do you want to possibly accumulate some of your partner’s debts? If not, you can protect yourself with a prenup. What about pets–do you have any? Then there’s another great reason to get a prenup. In some states, you can dictate things like pet ownership and pet visitation schedules. There’s a laundry list of clauses you can add to a prenup, check out some more here.
The bread and butter of a prenuptial agreement are protecting assets. Military or not, protecting your assets can be beneficial to anyone. What are assets? Assets include things like bank accounts, real estate, retirement funds, expensive artwork, crypto, credit card miles, and basically anything with economic value. You can also protect your future inheritances, which is a future asset. A prenup lets you outline what property should remain separate property and, thus, not subject to division.
Maybe neither of you has assets. But does one of you have a staggering amount of student loans? Many Americans do. If this is you, then you may want to consider a prenup. Prenups can protect you from absorbing some of your partner’s debt. And, yes, without a prenup, it is possible that a court assigns the non-borrowing spouse a portion of the other spouse’s debt. Yikes!
Military retirement benefits
You may be entitled to a pension after retirement. Although that might feel pretty far off at the time when you’re newly engaged and thinking about wedding (and prenup) planning, that’s something you may consider addressing in your prenup. In case of divorce, would you be okay with an ex-spouse having access to some of your military retirement pension?
It makes sense if you feel inclined to protect your military retirement to some extent. After all, you’re making massive sacrifices. If you’re in the military, you’re probably no stranger to being away from home for months at a time (or longer), devoting years of your life to one of the most demanding lines of work, risking your life, and potentially accepting very little money for it all. It’s only fair to want to protect some (or all) of the pension you could receive in the future as compensation for your efforts.
Your career is unpredictable
Being in the military can mean multiple deployments, many moves in a short span of time, and plenty of other curveballs being thrown your way. Unfortunately, having a less predictable lifestyle means that it will be more difficult to plan your life together with your spouse, which may put stress on your marriage. Being away from them for extended periods of time can do the same. Many couples find that their love grows even stronger when they’re away from each other and have the opportunity to miss one another. Nevertheless, some do find that their connection fades with extended deployments. You can minimize your chances of this happening by being intentional and deliberate about staying in touch, updating one another regularly on all the trivial details of your everyday lives (and truly caring about those), and being extra mindful about spending quality time together when you are in the same place.
However, couples do sometimes grow apart–whether one partner is in the military or not. If your marriage does eventually end in divorce, you may want to have a prenup in place to make the process easier and govern what happens and how assets are divided. If you don’t write your own prenup, you get the default prenup: the impersonal, one-size-fits-all divorce laws of your state. Your life in the military is unpredictable enough. Don’t let your financial future in case of divorce match this uncertainty and lack of control.
Life insurance is a way to provide money to your spouse after you have died. This may seem like a tough topic to conceptualize, but it can be important for people in high-risk fields like the military. Even if just for peace of mind, life insurance may be a good idea. With life insurance, money is paid out upon the death of one spouse, funded by premium payments. Many folks use the life insurance payout to fund funeral costs, medical bills, or any other expenses that may arise (ugh, sad to think about, we know!). In your prenup, you can choose to maintain a life insurance policy for the benefit of the other. HelloPrenup also offers this option as a clause on our customizable prenup platform.
If you’re in the military, you are probably already well accustomed to things being regimented, official, and done by the book. Just as this structured approach helps the navy, army, marines, air force, coast guard, and space force to function optimally, it can also help your marriage to do the same.
A prenup ensures that all your financial details and roles are clear and official. Additionally, it simplifies things so that if your marriage doesn’t work out, you don’t have to undergo as long and expensive a divorce process as you might otherwise. Life in the military is unpredictable enough; at least in your married life, a prenuptial agreement can bring you much-needed peace of mind.
HelloPrenup has an online platform that helps couples write and personalize their prenuptial agreements from the comfort of their sofas without the expense and stress of involving attorneys. Here’s how it works.
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]