There are pros and cons to everything in life. Maybe you’ve written a pros-and-cons list for a college you were applying to or for a job you considered. It’s not a bad idea to weigh out your options and truly consider the decision you’re about to make. The same goes for prenups (you can think of a prenup as a pre-marriage agreement). Why not list out the pros and cons of prenups? No need to get out that pen and paper; we did the dirty work for you! Keep reading to understand the pros and cons of a pre-marriage agreement (i.e., a prenup).
Pro: Prenups give you peace of mind
First and foremost, a prenup can give you and your soon-to-be spouse some peace of mind. After all, the divorce rate for almost 45 states and the District of Columbia is hovering at approximately 40%! This is quite a few divorces if you ask us. The peace of mind of knowing that if you do fall into this 40% category, you will be protected is worth it. That’s why we like to call it “marriage insurance” (even though it’s not technically insurance). You wouldn’t feel ashamed to purchase car insurance knowing that you probably won’t get into a major car accident, but if you do, you’re protected. The same logic should apply to prenups! Just like car insurance, it’s peace of mind knowing you won’t be S.O.L. in case of a certain event.
Pro: Prenups facilitate communication
Prenups are an excellent communication tool. How? It forces couples to talk about difficult topics like divorce, death, retirement, financial goals, financial situations, debt, roles, lifestyles, and much, much more. These topics may not be discussed prior to marriage without a prenup, which could turn out to be a bad thing for some people. Prenups are a catalyst for financial and life alignment between a couple.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this concept. Mary and John are about to get married, and John wants a prenup. Through the prenup-making process, John discovers that Mary actually wants to have a joint bank account and be a stay-at-home Mom, even though she has a successful career as a teacher at the moment with her own bank account. John had no idea about this prior to the prenup discussions. He thought because they both had their separate careers and money, that it would likely stay that way through the marriage. Mary, on the other hand, assumed John knew that she always wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom just like her grandmother. It was always a goal of hers, but it apparently wasn’t communicated properly. And, bam! This is how a prenup facilitates communication.
Not to mention, many people believe that communication is actually the key to marital success. You see it everywhere about how miscommunication can be the downfall of a relationship. Starting off your marriage with a vehicle for communication (a.k.a. a prenup) is a great step in the right direction.
Pro: Prenups may protect wealth
Prenups may protect each party while also maintaining fairness. Prenups shouldn’t be overly one-sided or unfair but instead should protect people in a way that both parties feel comfortable with. In other words, a prenup can protect wealth while also not leaving one party destitute. A prenup may protect wealth in a variety of different ways, including protecting assets, avoiding your spouse’s debt, keeping inheritances and gifts separate, and more. Whatever your financial situation may be, a prenup can help protect you.
For example, let’s say you have a investment fund that you have been growing since you were 20 years old. You’ve accumulated almost $250,000 in this account. A prenup can help protect that $250,000 plus any appreciation in value on the investment during the marriage.
Without a prenup, you leave the decision of what happens to your wealth in the hands of your state’s divorce laws and your assigned divorce judge. However, a prenup can override your state’s divorce law and thereby give you and your boo the control to decide what happens to your guys’ wealth.
Pro: Prenups give you and your fiancé control over your destiny
That brings us to our next point: a prenup gives you and your soon-to-be spouse the reigns to control what happens to your “stuff” in the event of a divorce. Without a prenup, the divorce laws of your state and your assigned divorce judge will decide for you. A prenup overrides the default state divorce laws. For example, if you live in one of the nine community property states which generally splits property acquired during the marriage 50/50 regardless of spousal contribution, you can override that and determine in your prenup how to split up the property, which might not be 50/50, depending on you and your partner’s wishes.
Pro: Prenups can balance power dynamics in a relationship
Is one partner significantly wealthier than the other? If so, there may be an uneven power dynamic between you two. One partner may feel they have less of a voice in the relationship because they are dependent on the other for financial support. This can wreak havoc on a relationship and cause resentment, miscommunication, and unnecessary stress. With a prenup, you can even out the playing field by including clauses that equalize wealth. For example, you might include a clause that provides a lump sum of money in the event of a divorce to help balance out assets. This may help the party with less money feel more independent and feel that they have more agency in the relationship.
Con: Prenups cost money
Unfortunately, no, prenups are not free, although that would be nice. With an attorney, you will be paying somewhere between $2,500 and $10,000+ for a prenuptial agreement. No one wants to cough up that kind of money when they have a wedding on the horizon; we understand wholeheartedly! Enter: HelloPrenup. With HelloPrenup, there is a one-time fee of $599 per couple! Even if you still have questions and want to take your HelloPrenup-generated agreement to a lawyer, you will still be saving money on attorney’s fees and billable hours it would’ve taken to draft the agreement.
Con: Prenups take time
Between visiting venues, cake tasting, choosing the perfect linens, and planning the bachelor/bachelorette parties, getting a prenup can seem like an impossible feat. But guess what? With HelloPrenup, you can have yourself a legally sound prenup within an hour and a half. The cherry on top? You can do it from the comfort of your own home! That’s by far the easiest scratch off your wedding to-do list. Compare this to going the traditional route with an attorney, and you’re looking at a few week’s time to get a legally sound prenup, maybe longer, depending on a lot of different factors.
Con: It can be a difficult conversation to bring to your partner
Asking for a prenup is not like you’re asking your partner what they want for Christmas or where you two should do your honeymoon. Asking your honey for a prenup can be daunting, as they may be against the concept or, worse, offended by it. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways to bring prenups up without upsetting your partner. Heck, if you’re lucky, your fiancé may even be super interested in one as well!
Con: Prenups are not bulletproof
Prenups are not always bulletproof. There are times when a prenup may not be enforceable due to a variety of different reasons. For example, a court may deem a prenup invalid and, thus, not enforceable if it doesn’t meet state requirements for a prenup. Let’s look at one state in particular for an illustration of this. In California, there is something known as the “7-day rule,” which says a couple must wait seven days between the finalization of the agreement and the actual signing of the document. Other states do not have this rule. When the seven day rule is not followed in California, it probably will not hold up in court.
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]