Prenups can be beneficial for any gender, not just men. Regardless of gender, there are certain things people should ask for in a prenup, like alimony (i.e., spousal support), especially if you are a stay-at-home parent. Men and women alike should be thinking about protecting their assets and earned income and protecting themselves against their partner’s debt. What’s more, inheritances, gifts, life insurance, pet ownership, social media clauses, sunset clauses, and lump sum payments are just some of the things any gendered person can ask for. Let’s dive in!
First of all, what are assets? They are basically anything with economic value. This might be a house, a business, a car, a bank account, a retirement fund, a diamond ring, an NFT, etc. (you get the idea). You can use a prenup to protect these assets that you own.
In addition to protecting assets, you can also protect the asset’s appreciation in value. Think about it like this: if you owned a house in 2016, got married in 2018, then sold that house in 2022, the house will likely appreciate in value. How you treat the appreciation in value is something you can add to your prenup.
Along the same vein is property purchased with separate property. We’ll demonstrate with an example: you own a house. You declare it your separate property in your prenup. You sell the house and purchase a new house during the marriage. Is this new house joint property now (marital/community property), or is it still separate property? This is something you can dictate in your prenup!
Alimony (a.k.a. spousal support or maintenance)
Alimony is sometimes called spousal support or maintenance, depending on which state you’re in. It’s the financial support paid from one ex-spouse to another when a marriage comes to an end. The alimony could be paid during the divorce proceedings or after.
It’s a common misconception that alimony is only for women. That’s just not true. Men and women alike may ask for alimony; it’s not gender-restricted. Alimony may be a good idea, especially for those parents that stay at home full-time. Nowadays, 17% of stay-at-home parents are actually Dads, so if that sounds like you, you might consider asking for alimony.
On the other hand, if you are the breadwinner in the marriage and/or your partner plans on being a stay-at-home parent, you might consider providing them with alimony. They are, after all, providing you with homemaking services, which you probably are not paying them for. In fact, a stay-at-home mom should make the equivalent of ~$162,000 per year.
Most of us think of student loans when we think of debt these days, but debt might also be something like credit card debt, car loans, or business debt. Men and women alike have debt, so protecting yourself against debt can be beneficial for any gender. Maybe your future spouse borrowed debt prior to the marriage, or maybe they’re considering taking out debt during the marriage. Either way, you should know that you could be on the hook for both. Yes, even that debt that was borrowed prior to the marriage could become your problem partially. Luckily, prenups can help protect you against that outcome. You can delineate how debt will be treated in a divorce and whether or not it will remain the borrower’s separate property.
Inheritances and gifts
You may be receiving an inheritance or gift from Grandma and Grandpa, and eventually your parents, too. In fact, the greatest wealth transfer of all time is set to happen in the upcoming years, with the wealthiest generation (the Baby Boomers) passing on their wealth to their children and grandchildren. It’s common for people to mistakenly believe their inheritances are automatically protected in a divorce. It’s simply not true. Inheritances are not automatically protected in a divorce, and yes, your future ex could have the right to claim a portion of yours. With a prenup, you can protect these inheritances by claiming them as yours and yours alone. On the flip side, maybe you’re perfectly okay with treating your inheritance as marital/community property. That works, too!
As for gifts, we’re talking about larger gifts that you and your future ex may “argue” over. We’re not talking about that light-up fish that sings songs that your parents got you last Christmas. More like that $10,000 your Mom gives you for Easter every year (lucky you!). Or that starter house your parents gifted you for your wedding present. The good news is, these types of gifts can be protected in your prenup (or not, up to you)!
You can also protect earned income during the marriage and treat it as separate property or outline that it be treated as marital/community property. Earned income is generally what you make from your job, but it can also include income on rental properties, bonuses, commissions, royalties, and much more. You and your partner should discuss how you want to handle income made during the marriage and how it should be treated in the event of a divorce. Should earned income be treated as separate property? Depending on your situation, the best choice will vary.
For example, let’s say you are a stay-at-home parent; having your income-earning partner treat all earned income as separate property may not be the best choice for you since you don’t technically earn an income as a SAHP (stay-at-home parent). On the other hand, maybe you both work and earn relatively similar incomes and feel comfortable in keeping your income separate, then go for it!
Obviously, no matter your gender, if you have pets, chances are you love them to pieces. You probably don’t want to lose them in a divorce. Luckily, you can usually include pet clauses in prenups.
In most states, pets are treated like property in a divorce. Meaning pets will be assigned an owner in the same way a judge would assign a lamp to someone. So, if that doesn’t sound ideal, you and your partner may want to dictate who gets which pet should the marriage come to an end. Some states may even allow you to include a pet visitation schedule where you two can work out a plan to visit with your fluffy friend.
Maybe your future spouse works in a high-risk field like the military, and you want to require them to maintain life insurance with you as the beneficiary and a certain death benefit amount. This is definitely something you want to discuss with your honey, but it’s possible to add to your prenup.
If you or your spouse has an entrepreneurial spirit, then including clauses about businesses may benefit the marriage. You may outline that current or future businesses are separate property (or not). For example, let’s say your wife owns a very successful business that she started when she was just 25 (and you are both now 35). She’s put her blood, sweat, and tears for ten years into this business, and she’s a little weary of entering a marriage knowing her business could be on the line. You agree that you want to get a prenup to give her peace of mind to know that you won’t be able to “take” any portion of the business in the event of a divorce.
Ahh, the infamous “no-cheating clause.” We’re sure you’ve heard of it since the tabloids and social media love to make content on this endearing prenup clause. Keep in mind infidelity clauses are not enforceable in many states, including California. However, if you live in one of the few states that may enforce infidelity clauses, you are basically able to state that if the parties cheat on each other, they must pay the other person. For example, it might say that if you cheat, you will pay a lump sum of $500,000 to your spouse. Whether or not this clause is right for you… only you and your partner know the answer to that question.
Joint bank accounts
You may also include a clause that outlines whether or not you will have a joint bank account during the marriage. You can discuss with your partner how much money you each should deposit into the joint bank account monthly and how expenses will be paid from it. Keep in mind this bank account will be treated as community/marital property, which will be subject to division should the marriage end. You can also choose not to use a joint bank account and instead keep your own separate accounts during the marriage. Again, this is a personal decision, and what you decide should be what’s best for your marriage.
Social media image
Yes, this is a thing. Social media clauses are now commonly used to deter spouses from bad-mouthing or to humiliate their spouses on social media. You can add a clause that states that neither party may disrespect or humiliate the other on social media. If the marriage fails, and you or your partner violates this clause, you will have to pay $X of money to them (how much this is, is up to you!).
This is not an exhaustive list of all the things you can add to a prenup. With HelloPrenup, you will be guided through a questionnaire that does provide you with an exhaustive list of your options (which you can opt in or out of) and create a prenup that is custom-made for you. This gives you back control and allows you to be in the driver’s seat for your prenup.
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]