We’ve told you over and over again the reasons why you SHOULD consider signing a prenup, but what about the reasons why NOT to sign a prenup? Well, it was sort of difficult to come up with these reasons since we’re all #TeamPrenup, but we were able to scrape a few together.
Again, just for the record, we believe there are more reasons TO sign a prenup than to NOT sign a prenup, but the choice is yours, and you should feel comfortable with anything you sign and put into writing.
Your partner refuses to get one.
First and foremost, the number one reason not to sign a prenup is if your partner refuses to get one. Now, you can always choose not to marry this person, but if that is not an option, then you *legally* can’t get a prenup with only one person. And you certainly cannot force your partner to get one, so…this is definitely numero uno for reasons why you shouldn’t get a prenup (if you want to stay with your partner, that is).
You are okay with losing money in a divorce.
Money is no object to you, and you’re really okay with cutting your assets in half (or more) in the event of a divorce. Depending on your state, you could be looking at splitting 50% or more of your assets. A court will likely split the assets that you’ve acquired during the marriage, but sometimes that’s not always the case (especially depending on your state). Sometimes, a court can distribute assets you came into the marriage with, to your future ex, in addition to distributing the assets earned during the marriage.
You’re okay with taking on some of your spouse’s debt.
Oftentimes, when getting a divorce without a prenup, premarital and marital debt is split up between the couple. Depending on your state, that could be 50/50, 70/40, or any other combination of split. If you’re okay with taking a portion of your spouse’s credit card debt or student loan debt (even if you had nothing to do with it), then, sure, maybe you can forgo a prenup. And, yes, many states can (and will) attribute debt to a spouse, even if their name wasn’t on the loan.
You’re okay with paying spousal support/alimony.
In a prenup, you can remove the right to pay/receive alimony (a.k.a. Spousal support or maintenance) in the event of a divorce. Remember, alimony is ongoing payments or a single lump sum payment(s) to an ex-spouse. That means, WITH a prenup, you and your partner can agree to never pay each other alimony if a divorce happens. Without a prenup, state law applies, and a judge will determine if alimony is proper, for how long, and for how much money. Now, if you’re okay with the idea of possibly paying alimony to your partner (and all of the other things on this list), then by all means, skip that prenup.
You’re okay with losing a portion of your future inheritance.
It’s a total myth that your inheritance is completely protected in a divorce. There may be some states and some circumstances in which the law will protect your inheritance in a divorce without a prenup, but that’s not 100% guaranteed. So, without a prenup, you do run the risk of losing a portion of your inheritance to your future ex. If you’re cool with that, then maybe a prenup isn’t for you!
You’re okay with losing a portion of the gifts you receive
Sort of along the same vein of inheritances are gifts. For example, your parents gift you a large sum of money for your wedding day, or they love sending you a cool $10,000 for every Christmas gift. If you’re fine with that gift becoming marital/joint property and being split in a divorce, then you could skip a prenup. But, with a prenup, you could ensure that those gifts are kept separate.
You’re okay with paying more legal fees and spending more time battling out issues in a divorce.
Prenups tend to streamline divorces in a few ways. First, they cut down on the cost of a prenup because many of the hard-hitting issues like property division are already predetermined in your prenup. That’s because you don’t have to spend money on court fees and attorney fees in “arguing” over property division.
Second, they cut down on time spent divorcing. Again, it goes back to the predetermined issues thing. When you sign a prenup, you typically agree on certain topics, like property division, alimony, debt allocation, pet custody, and more. In turn, you do not need to spend time deciding these issues in court. Finally, prenups end up saving you time and money, which results in less stress.
Now, if you’re totally okay with the idea of spending more money in attorneys fees to decide on issues at the time of divorce and ultimately spending more time with your attorney (hey, we get it, we love attorneys too!), then maybe you don’t need to sign a prenup.
For stay-at-home parents: you’re okay with not receiving a portion of assets that you feel is fair in exchange for your time as a homemaker.
Now, stay-at-home parents, listen up. When you don’t have a prenup in place, your divorce outcome is generally governed by state law.
Sometimes the default state law may (or may not) work in your favor. This can be especially detrimental as a financially dependent person because if you have forfeited your career to take care of the home and children, you may find it hard to find a job or support yourself after years of being supported by your spouse.
Now, generally, the state default law will not leave you with zero, but perhaps what the state law allows for isn’t enough for you (or maybe it is?). This is a personal decision, and if you’re okay with letting state law dictate this, then by all means, skip that ‘nup.
You’re okay with sharing custody or losing custody of your pets.
Yes, you can determine custody of your pets in a prenup. Without a prenup, your pets are usually assigned an owner based on basic property principles (in most states). That means that the court will decide pet custody in essentially the same way the court will divvy up that precious lamp you own. Things like who bought it and how much it cost or its value may come into play when making this determination.
You’re okay with diminishing your children’s future inheritance from you.
If you’re protecting your assets in your prenup, you’re essentially protecting your children’s future inheritance. (Children from another relationship, that is). In other words, without a prenup, you are likely to lose some assets to your future ex-spouse (who is not your children’s parent). The less money and property you ultimately have, the less you have to provide for your children while you’re alive or in your passing. Now, if you’re totally fine with it and you’d be okay with your future ex-spouse possibly taking a cut over your children, then this may be one of the reasons not to sign a prenup.
You are okay with state law determining what happens to your engagement and/or wedding ring(s)
Some states say that marital rings (engagement rings and wedding rings) are joint property and should be divided in a divorce. Other states do not; they say that the rings were gifts and that the person wearing them should keep them. So whatever your state mandates – are you okay with it? (Note: with a prenup, you can outline what exactly you want to happen to the engagement and wedding rings).
If you’re totally fine with whatever your state says (and rings are just material things, it doesn’t matter to you), then maybe you really don’t need a prenup!
You’re okay with losing health insurance from your partner in the event of a divorce.
Depending on your state and your particular health insurance provider, you can add a clause in your prenup that states the spouse responsible for health insurance should continue providing health insurance for a set amount of time for the other spouse in the event of a divorce. Without a prenup, what happens to the health insurance for the dependent spouse may be up to the state laws and/or the judge’s discretion. So, if you’re okay with that, then you might not need a prenup.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, whether or not you get a prenup is a personal and relationship decision you and your partner need to make together. There are certainly reasons why you should get a prenup, but there are always reasons not to, as well. Take some time to carefully consider the pros and cons, and make sure you and your partner are on the same page.
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]