written by a HelloPrenup contributor
I just met the guy I’m going to marry – online.
It was November 2017, and my future fiancé messaged me online. We chatted for a few days and everything seemed to be going pretty well (for being online). After several conversations of “getting to know each other,” we decided to meet in person (shout out to pre-pandemic when that wasn’t weird) and do the traditional dinner date. The plan was to meet at a steakhouse and, as the responsible adult that I am, I decided to get there early and scope out the situation. After confirming that he was not a catfish, I got out of my car, met him inside, and the rest is history. Literally, “his story.” Here’s what happened.
After a few months of dating, he proposed. I KNOW, RIGHT? A few months? I said the same thing too! But when you know, you just know, right?
So we got engaged, the rock was badass, and I said hell yes. The sun seemed brighter, the bird’s chipped louder, and I swear food tasted better. I was pumped. But then, my fiancé asked for a prenup, and I was like, “you’re joking, right?”
There were no jokes that day ladies and gentleman, and to be honest, I was only laughing that day purely out of nervousness. I have never actually heard anyone talk about prenups (besides Kanye West), let alone be serious about getting one, let alone asking ME for one.
My fiancé assured me that this was a safe space and we could openly talk about the pros and cons of getting a prenup, but he was dead set on only getting married if we got one, so I was pretty screwed. And that’s when I lost it.
If we are truly in love, why do we need a prenup? Do you plan to leave me? Are we essentially planning our doom? Prenups are for the rich and famous anyways, what are you trying to pull here? How much is this going to cost? Seriously, what the hell?
At this point I thought, “Okay, maybe I am getting Catfished. Where are Nev and Max to explain what is going on here? Is this like a ‘Dear John’ thing?” In fact, this was not a Catfish sitch, so I had to really decide if this guy was for me and if I’m seriously about to go down the rabbit hole of getting a prenup, and sure enough, I did.
Here’s exactly what I did, how I screwed myself over, and why you should avoid the costly mistakes that I made:
Step 1: Googled “how do I get a prenup?”
Like the millennial I am, I relied on my dear friend, Google, to take my precious future into her own hands and provide me with the best prenup possible. I assumed at this point that prenups were posted up on digital shelves and I would just fill in my information, “add to cart”, and sign off my soul to some “superawesomeprenups.com” site. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case.
After scrolling through Google’s favorite options for me, I realized that this is going to be much more than I anticipated – more time, more money, and more reasons to get frustrated with my new fiancé. I hit a lot of cyber and emotional walls that day and realized that the only way I was going to marry this guy was if:
- I hire a lawyer (great, now I have to Google one of these too)
- Fork over too many commas, zeros, and dollar signs
- Spend a lot of time talking about really heavy topics with strangers (lawyers) and my fiancé (who I really haven’t known that long, but that’s my own problem)
That’s when food went back to tasting normal, bird chirps became super annoying, and I realized I was about to prepare for battle.
Step 2: Hired a lawyer
Lawyers are people, right? So at this point, I’m thinking it only makes sense that I go through Yelp! Or some review site that’s going to give me advice from people about people, particularly when I’m about to open up about some really personal details and put my future and trust in someone’s legal hands. I went to a handful of “free consultations” and forfeited many lunch breaks to meet with lawyers just to decide if I thought they would be the right counsel for me.
After a few weeks of searching, I ended up going with a lawyer that had pretty decent reviews on Yelp!, had an amazing professional background, and was a woman (so my bias self felt comfortable opening up to her because that’s just the kind of person that I am).
Now, at this point, you might be thinking “okay, great, she’s got a lawyer, she’s going to be taken care of, that’s just what lawyers do, right?” Guys, I thought the exact. same. thing. After having a handful of conversations about what I was looking for, why I was there, and what this process was going to look like for me, I went back to my fiancé, demanded he paid the $1000 needed to simply hire her, and geared up to start getting down into the nitty gritty. He hired counsel too (since we both couldn’t have the same lawyer, now he’s out approximately ~$2000) and started writing the dreaded prenup.
Step 3: Wrote “our” prenup
“Our” is a very strong word here, and I will not be using it lightly. What ended up happening (because I’m naïve and just believed this was standard protocol, so I’m going to let my $1000 lawyer work for me and keep it moving) was my fiancé’s lawyer wrote a draft, sent it over to me within a couple days, and I sat down to a 28-page document that stated my fate. It started off with our backgrounds, who we are, what we are bringing into the marriage (assets, debt, previous children – husband was previously married with one daughter) and set the baseline for what will happen in the event of only “death and divorce.”
After getting cross-eyed trying to read through all of the legal jargon (and no, there isn’t a rosetta stone for understanding legal documents, I looked for that too) I realized just how heavy this boilerplate prenup really is. It basically states that in the event that we divorce, I am waiving my right to everything – no alimony, no spousal support, no assets, no house, no car, nothing, unless it’s something I already owned prior to getting married. If we get divorced, I go back in time to the person that I was and will have nothing to show for this marriage besides some battle wounds and list of regrets. I will not gain anything from my fiancé regardless of if we build wealth together or buy anything together. Together was nonexistent at this point and that was so hard to wrap my head around because, aren’t marriages about spending lives together?)
So now I’m thinking, “yeah – this is why I hate prenups. But I understand why they are necessary for us.” (Again, naive me with rose colored glasses reasoned my way through too much and ended up paying for it and writing this blog post two years later).
At this point I said, “Okay, I get it. A prenup is fair. We will just keep our stuff separate. All of my money, stuff, etc, is mine, and my fiancé can’t take it from me in the event of divorce either. This sounds pretty reliving for me because I have heard of horror divorce stories where women are left with nothing post divorce so I’m willing to do this prenup because it essentially protects me too.”
After a few weeks of going back and forth with my lawyer, swapping emails and drafts back and forth with fiancé and his lawyer, we decided to meet in person and sign our lives away. At this point we’ve invested about two months and ~$2500 into this prenup charade and I was so ready to get this over with so we could just enjoy being engaged.
Step 4: Relief and regret
It’s done. We met in person with all parties present and signed away our fate. I expected to be super excited to get this thing over with and anticipated my fiancé kissing my feet with gratitude, but instead, I left the signing feeling really, really empty. Yes, I was relieved to be done with the whole ordeal and was proud of myself for accomplishing this labor of love, but I walked away feeling drained and uneasy. “Did I just screw myself out/into something? Did I make a huge mistake? What’s in this for me?”
Fast-forward two years
Here I am, two years later, and we have an 18-month old son, a 3-car garage house, and I’m loving our little family that we have worked hard to build. But I think about my prenup every. single. day. I say “my” and not “our” anymore because after 730 days of thinking, researching, and agonizing over this, I have learned that the prenup I signed was really to protect my husband and not me at all. The prenup I signed did not protect me in any way “in the event of” and there are so many mistakes that I made. I’m here with one mission only and that is to prevent you from making the same mistakes I made. Here’s what I wish I did and why:
Step 1 of 1: HelloPrenup
I stumbled upon HelloPrenup because my friend brought them up to me. She knew that I had a prenup and that it was brutal for me to go through the process. She pitched them by saying they’re a digital platform that takes the awkwardness out of prenups by eliminating lawyers (that’s 25% of the stress right there), they’re a fraction of the price of traditional prenup practices (um, what?) And you never have to leave your home to get it done (so you can actually have lunch breaks?)
I looked up HelloPrenup and sure enough, I saw this unicorn of a service was real. I saw that their mission was to represent couples equally and fairly no matter what type of event is thrown their way during marriage. It wasn’t like my experience, where one lawyer was on the offense fighting for my fiancé’s rights, while the other (mine) was on the defense trying to do damage control and “settle” on a draft that inevitably can never be considered “equal and fair.”
HelloPrenup offers clauses and oh my god, where were these when I was in my debacle? We never discussed clauses? Clauses, for those of us who aren’t familiar, are specific protection statements that are designed to protect both partners in a particular event. There’s dog clauses (who gets doggo if we get divorced), sunset clauses (the prenup can expire!? So you can actually decide on a date where this thing will go away forever instead of counting the days you’ve been agonizing over this?) And even health insurance clauses (who pays for mine and my son’s health insurance if we get divorced?)
At this point, it’s clear to me that my prenup had no balance of scales and all of the cards were in my husband’s lap. This prenup protected him and only him because he had more assets, more money, and entering into his second marriage. And now, I’m regretful and wishing that I went through HelloPrenup since it would have protected me in so many ways that I was never even “counseled” on with my lawyer.
My plea to you
In a tweet, I learned that my lawyer did not provide enough guidance to protect me. She let me down. When I had my son, I decided to quit my job so that I could stay home and raise him while my husband went to work and made more and more money. Sure, he paid all the bills, but if he left me tomorrow, my son and I would be penniless and on the street. Where was this discussed during my process? Next to a whole lot of nowhere.
I also realized that now, during a pandemic, if my husband were to leave me and I wanted to reenter the workforce, find a new place to live, and keep my son healthy, I would have to work 3 jobs, be a full-time childcare teacher, and keep my single mother household afloat by the skin of my teeth. Because I waived alimony and spousal support, child support would be the only type of financial “help” to take care of my son. And if we had to go to court? Well, there’s a pandemic with social distancing, so wtf, mate?
Also, who is going to compensate me for the 18 months that I have been home? What about health insurance? I’m not working at this point, so who is going to make sure my son is vaccinated, and god forbid, has treatment for COVID? I wish my attorney had discussed some of these alternatives with me- like, maybe a sunset clause, or a lump sum payment, so that I had more options and felt better represented in my prenup.
Guys – this is all covered in HelloPrenup. There’s clauses for almost every situation you could ever think of so you and your partner can clearly define what happens in these situations. You don’t have to worry about “what-ifs” because HelloPrenup asks you to discuss these tough hypotheticals so you don’t have to actually live them out without any baseline of what to do or what will happen to you.
So, let me leave you with the hard truth about what will happen to you if you decide to not use HelloPrenup and decide to walk down the alley of traditional prenups or any other “superawesomeprenups.com” service that seems somewhat legit.
You will have spent too much time and money on lawyer billable hours that aren’t always the only way. You will put a lot of trust in your lawyer for your fate instead of putting your fate in your hands. You will resent your partner for putting you through something that didn’t need to be so traumatic and spend the rest of your marriage wondering if you really screwed yourself up by being a “good spouse” that just tries to make their partner happy. Now, don’t get me wrong – a lawyer can be tremendously important in a prenup negotiation- but make sure you have done your own research first. I learned that you cannot rely solely on one source for information. If I had to do this again, I would use HelloPrenup for all of the reasons I have described- but most of all, the ease of use. Then maybe I would take my prenup to a lawyer, if I needed clarification.
For those of you concerned about my future at this point – thank you, but don’t be. My husband and I have addressed how to get around this one-sided prenup and we are making “our” wrongs right. I’m sharing my “his story” prenup experience with you so you can skip spending 780 dinners talking about the “what we should have done” wish list.
Make your life easy. Get a prenup – for sure. It’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself and financial protection in a marriage is absolutely important. But, do yourself a favor and get a HelloPrenup so you can spend the rest of your engagement planning your lives and getting excited about them, and not dreading the “what if’s” all the time. You’ll save a fortune, you’ll save so much time, trauma, and drama, and you will get your sanity back. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wish that I used HelloPrenup and I will spend the rest of my life wishing this.
Prenup survivor #10293802384023975
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].