As a bride preparing to walk down the aisle and commit to a lifelong partnership with my partner, I’m faced with an interesting predicament: whether or not to get a prenuptial agreement. On the one hand, I want to believe that we would never get a divorce or “need” a prenup. A prenuptial agreement could feel like an unnecessary formality and take the romance out of marriage. On the other hand, I understand that a prenuptial agreement is a practical tool to protect both of us. A prenup can even strengthen relationships in some ways (so I’ve heard).
The most important thing for me is to ensure that my future spouse and I have a strong, honest, and open discussion about the prenuptial agreement. I need to be sure that we are both on the same page and that we have both agreed to the terms of the agreement. Ultimately, I want to make sure that our marriage is based on trust and mutual respect—no matter what the future holds.
Pro: Prenups can protect the person with less money, too.
Contrary to popular belief, prenups can also protect someone with less money than their partner or even someone with no money at all. Yes, that’s right. You can have no money at all, and a prenup can still work in your favor. How? Well, a prenup can make sure the financially disadvantaged spouse is provided for by the other spouse with things like alimony (i.e., spousal support), lump sum payments (i.e., equalization payments), asset allocation, occupation of the primary residence during and after divorce, and life insurance death benefits.
Pro: Prenups can outline obligations during the marriage, as well as in a divorce.
A huge benefit of getting a prenup is outlining certain obligations that take place during the marriage. It’s a common misconception that prenups only cover what happens in a divorce, and while that is true, it may also cover what happens during the marriage. For example, will you and your partner have a joint bank account? If so, you can outline this in your prenup and stipulate the expenses and contributions to the joint account. This is important because it is an aspect of financial planning that gets written down in a contract, making it more concrete.
How much money will each of you deposit into the joint account each month? What expenses will be paid from the account? These are the types of things that need to be worked out and agreed upon. Having this conversation early on, before the wedding day, helps create alignment with your partner and sets expectations for the marriage.
Pro: Prenups can protect future assets that you may not have yet.
Many people believe prenups aren’t beneficial to them because they don’t have any assets…yet. Maybe you are engaged at the ripe age of 25. You’re new in your career, you’re paying off debt, and you don’t have many assets accumulated yet. That’s okay and fairly normal! But guess what? You will have assets one day, whether that’s through an inheritance, retirement fund, savings account, real estate, or something else. You can protect those assets that don’t exist yet with a prenup!
Pro: Prenups can protect your children from another relationship.
If you happen to have kids from another relationship, listen up. A prenup can protect your kids, too. Whether your kids are minors or full-blow adults living on their own, a prenup can make sure that your kids are financially provided for. For example, let’s say you have minor children from another marriage. If you don’t have a prenup that protects your “stuff,” you may be looking at a 50/50 split of your assets (or worse, 40/60, 30/70, depending on your situation and state)! This loss of assets is less money you have available for your children. On the flip side, if you have older kids who don’t need your support anymore, you still can protect their future inheritance with a prenup. Again, if you end up splitting your assets with your future ex, that’s less money for your kids in various ways!
Pro: Prenups can protect your pets.
Our furry friends have feelings, too! They should be taken care of in the event of a divorce. And guess what? Prenups can do that! Yes, prenups can determine pet ownership in the event you and your spouse split up. Otherwise, without a prenup, a court will typically use traditional property principles to determine pet ownership, such as looking at who purchased the pet. We all know just because you purchased the animal doesn’t mean that person is the one most emotionally connected to it!
Pro: Prenups can strengthen relationships by facilitating in-depth communication and life planning.
One surprising pro to getting a prenup is actually strengthening your relationship through in-depth communication and life planning. The nature of crafting a prenup breeds self-reflection, goal-setting, difficult conversations, expectation matching, and life alignment. In the process of getting a prenup, you will need to agree on many different topics, like a joint bank account (or no joint bank account), property division, alimony, and much more. This requires introspection and discussion with your partner to a level you may not have gotten to before. These are tough and sometimes uncomfortable topics (money, death, divorce, you name it!).
You not only have to agree on every single topic, but you also have to go through financial disclosure, which requires all cards on the table from both spouses. Financial disclosure is the process of outlining all of your finances, from debt to real estate and everything in between. There is no room for skimping.
Pro: Prenups aren’t that expensive, contrary to popular belief.
Well, let’s preface this by saying prenups aren’t that expensive if you use HelloPrenup’s platform. Going the traditional route of using an attorney can cost you $2,500 or more. The cost may vary depending on your location, the attorney’s skills and experience, and your situation’s complexity. Even if you use HelloPrenup and an attorney, you can still cut down on costs by shaving off the time an attorney would have spent drafting the actual agreement. Some folks choose this hybrid approach of using both HelloPrenup and an attorney to allow them to take control by creating their prenup with HelloPrenup but also have the prenup reviewed by an attorney and answer any questions.
Pro: Prenups are easy to get nowadays, especially with platforms like HelloPrenup.
A prenup can be completed in under two hours with HelloPrenup. We repeat: a prenup can be completed in UNDER two hours with HelloPrenup! Going the traditional route of hiring an attorney, you may be looking at weeks or even months before you have a completed prenup in hand. Not to mention, using the HelloPrenup platform is a breeze and can all be done from the comfort of your living room.
Con: The prenup process can be uncomfortable.
We will admit it, talking about death, finances, and divorce isn’t the most comfortable of conversations to have with your future bride or groom, albeit necessary. It’s one of those things that you don’t really want to do, but you know after you do it, you’ll feel better. Kind of like cleaning the baseboards or the oven. It’s annoying and uncomfortable, but afterward, you feel better about life. After having the uncomfortable convo with your partner, you will come out the other side with a deeper understanding of them and better alignment in life (and your prenup!).
Con: Getting a prenup can bring on judgment from others if they find out.
Until recently, prenups have had a bad rep in the media and Hollywood. Nowadays, it’s much more common, accepted, and encouraged to get a prenup. But back in the day, they were a shameful thing that only “untrusting spouses” got. Some people (probably Gen X or Boomer) may be hanging on to those old stigmas around prenups. If your Boomer grandparent or Gen X uncle finds out you have a prenup, they may heckle you for it. Or maybe they’ll talk behind your back. Either way, you might get unwanted commentary surrounding their opinions on prenups.
Con: Prenups can be thrown out by a court in rare cases.
If you don’t execute your prenup properly or if you include unconscionable provisions, you may get your prenup invalidated. An invalid prenup will not be enforced by a court. Instead, the court will use the default state divorce laws to determine issues like property division and alimony. A prenup usually overrides these default state divorce laws, and if your prenup is thrown out, you’re back to square one. It’s not the end of the world if you have to abide by the default state divorce rules; you just may not like the outcome as much as you would the outcome derived by the prenup.
Con: A prenup can get expensive if you have a complex case.
I know we said earlier as a pro that prenups aren’t that expensive, and that is also true. But it is simultaneously true that prenups can get expensive if you go the traditional attorney route (meaning you hire an attorney to do your prenup as opposed to using HelloPrenup). Prenups could be anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 or more! This all depends on your case’s complexity, the location you’re in, and the attorney you choose.
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]