Let’s cut to the chase: yes, women should definitely consider signing a prenup that is valid, fair, and maybe even attempts to close the gender wealth gap. A woman, or any person, should not sign a prenup that feels unfair or one-sided. The ideal prenup for a woman would be one that is fair to both parties but also empowers the female partner to feel independent and comfortable, especially if she is a stay-at-home parent.
What is a prenup?
A prenuptial agreement (a.k.a. a prenup) is a contract between two people who are about to get married. A prenup is only valid once the parties wed. A prenup should be beneficial to both parties, meaning it shouldn’t be a win-lose. In a prenup, topics like property division, debt allocation, and alimony (sometimes referred to as spousal support) are all very commonly included. Typically a prenup covers mostly financial matters, but it can also cover non-financial topics, such as confidentiality, pet ownership, and even infidelity in some states. Not only does a prenup help you two work out certain financial and lifestyle matters, but also it can be used as a way to align your goals and expectations of each other. A prenup can help be a catalyst for open communication and discussions around tough topics. For example, maybe you have an apartment that you paid off prior to meeting your beau and have every intention of keeping it your separate property and yours alone. Does your soon-to-be spouse know about this? Perhaps they thought this was going to be a shared asset, and they considered it to be theirs, too. This type of conversation is required while going through the prenup process and can help align couples on each other’s wishes. How romantic!
Who should get a prenup?
Despite popular belief, prenups are also not just for the wealthy but for everyone. And they don’t just benefit men! Prenups can benefit all genders and ages. A prenup is useful for a plethora of reasons. Here are some examples of people, regardless of gender, who should get a prenup:
- You want to protect certain assets, such as a house or retirement fund.
- You want to protect the family wealth, such as a future inheritance or gifts from family.
- You want to protect yourself against your partner’s debt, like student loans or credit card debt.
- You are a stay-at-home parent without your own stream of income.
- One of the partners is much wealthier than the other. (A prenup can work to benefit both sides of this equation).
- You are on your second (or third) marriage (you’ve done this before, you should know a prenup is important!).
- You have children from another relationship and want to protect their inheritance.
- You own a business or plan to open a business. Yes, your spouse can take a piece of your business in a divorce, so get that ink to paper.
- You have pets prior to the marriage and want to make sure you sort out ownership of them in case of a divorce, along with possibly even visitation schedules (depending on your state).
- You want to maintain a private lifestyle, such as avoiding certain images or information on social media.
- You fear infidelity and want some peace of mind. (Warning: this is not enforceable in many states).
- You want to align on financial roles, goals, and expectations.
- You simply want the peace of mind of “marriage insurance.” This means less money and time spent on divorce and financial protection.
Should I be offended if my partner suggests a prenup?
The answer to this depends on whether the prenup is fair to you. Overall, a prenup in and of itself is not offensive; it’s actually quite romantic if you ask us. But a prenup may be offensive if it’s extremely unfair or one-sided. The ideal prenup takes into consideration both parties’ goals, and the outcome is a win-win.
The prenup discussion should not be a one-person show. It’s a matter of talking it out with your soon-to-be spouse like you would in a true partnership. The discussion should be about both people’s needs and wants, not just one person making demands. If that is the case, you may want to reconsider this partnership if you can’t align on financial goals and expectations.
Why should women sign a prenup?
Women should enter prenups for a number of reasons, but one especially important reason is the wealth gap. Not the gender pay gap but the gender WEALTH gap. This is the accumulation of wealth men have compared to women. As you probably can guess, the gender wealth gap favors men in today’s society. The discrepancy in wealth is partially due to the gender pay gap, but not entirely.
A huge cause attributing to the wealth gap is that women are primarily the ones responsible for child care and homemaking. Women have to take time off for childbirth (and sometimes even during the pregnancy) and then usually a few weeks or months post-partum to recover and care for their newborn. Women are also more likely to put their careers to the side to focus on their children. This leads to less accumulation of money over time.
Less wealth and dependence on partners can lead to less agency and voice in a relationship. A prenup can help equalize the power in a relationship and balance out the wealth gap. Creating a prenup with the goal of financially empowering women can create a collaborative and communicative relationship dynamic.
What should women include in their prenup?
A prenup that closes the gender wealth gap might include several topics. For starters, including alimony (i.e., spousal support) which accounts for any financial discrepancies should the marriage ever come to an end, is a great option.
Another great option is to grant more assets to the woman partner that stays at home with the children. For instance, maybe she is given ownership of the home and/or a piece of the male partner’s future inheritance in case of a divorce.
Cold hard cash. A lump sum of money in lieu of a yearly salary (let’s say, for every year she spent at home with the children) would be an excellent way to close the gender wealth gap via prenup.
There are many ways a couple can get creative (within the legal state limits) in making a prenup that feels fair for both parties but also empowers the woman and facilitates a balanced relationship.
There is no general rule about whether women should get a prenuptial agreement or not. It ultimately depends on the individual circumstances of each couple. Some women may benefit from a prenup if they have significant assets, such as property or businesses, that they want to protect in the event of a divorce. Others may want a prenup if they have children from a previous relationship and want to ensure that their children are provided for in the event of their death. Still, others may want a prenup if they have significant financial obligations, such as student loan debt, that they want to clarify in the event of a separation. Ultimately, whether or not a woman should get a prenup will depend on her individual circumstances and what she wants to protect. It’s important to discuss this decision with an attorney to ensure that any prenuptial agreement is fair and legally binding.
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]