If your future spouse refuses to sign a prenuptial agreement, it can be a difficult and stressful situation to navigate. Prenups can be portrayed in such a negative light in the media resulting in many people having misconceptions about prenups. Maybe they have trust issues or fear the legal implications. Whatever the case may be, we have some ideas to help you work through this with them.
Reasons why your spouse may refuse to sign a prenup and how you can address them
First, it’s important to understand why your spouse is refusing to sign the prenup. Are they worried about the legal implications of the agreement? Are they concerned that it may negatively impact your relationship? Having a clear understanding of their concerns can help you address them more effectively. Let’s dive into some of the most common reasons a spouse may refuse to sign a prenup:
Some people think signing a prenup means there are trust issues in the relationship. They may feel that by signing a prenup, they are admitting that the marriage may not last. This can create feelings of perceived insecurity and uncertainty in the relationship.
Everyone’s feelings are valid, and this can easily be worked through with simple conversation.
For starters, you will want to sit down with your partner and walk them through your intentions. Helping them understand your goal with the prenup may alleviate some stressors.
Next, you’ll want to explain how prenups work (if they don’t already know). This can also be reassuring to some people if they don’t fully understand the laws around prenups.
Lastly, you can consider a sunset clause which puts an expiration date on the prenup. So, you could say after 20 years of marriage, this prenup will cease to exist. This is a great tool for someone who is hesitant about prenups based on trust issues because it is a win-win. The prenup is there, but only for a certain period of time.
Finally, reassure them regarding your feelings! Your partner may be feeling insecure and uncertain about your relationship, so make sure they feel secure, loved, and reassured about your intentions.
Some people may be worried about the legal implications of a prenup and the potential impact on their rights and assets in the event of a divorce. How does a prenup work? What kind of things can I even protect? Am I going to be SOL after signing this prenup? There are many legal questions that may run through someone’s head when faced with a prenup, and understandably so! Let’s work through some of those briefly.
Prenups are legally required to be reasonably fair. This doesn’t mean they need to be 50/50, just that one person is not sailing off on their yacht while the other person collects food stamps. This should be reassuring to many people because, legally, no one should become destitute after a prenup is enforced. Prenups should also be negotiated. You shouldn’t have one person demanding something from the other with no pushback. To create a fair prenup, healthy negotiation is needed. Now, what you put into your prenup is totally up to you (within the legal parameters, of course). How you protect your assets (or not) is all within your power. You have the ability to negotiate with your partner to a point where you are both comfortable.
Another way to handle concerns over the legal implications would be to contact an attorney to ask questions. You can get a quick consultation with an attorney and work out some of the “what-ifs.” If you need more time, you can always book more time with the attorney.
The emotional impact
There may be an emotional impact to signing a prenup. A prenup can be a sensitive topic, and some individuals may feel hurt or offended that their partner is suggesting one. They may feel that the prenup is an indication that the partner does not trust or value the relationship.
Like we said earlier, sitting down with your partner and having an in-depth conversation (while both are in good states of mind) is crucial here. It may be one conversation, it may be 20, but you’ve got to communicate. Communication will clear up any misconceptions they are holding on to and clarify your intentions.
You should also reassure them about the relationship and how you feel. If you don’t like talking about feelings, well, now’s the time to pack that away for another day. Talk about your feelings and help make the prenup process that much easier by eliminating the emotional impact.
You might also consider getting a couple’s therapist to walk through some of these issues. A therapist can help ease some of the emotional impacts that may take place from the prenup-talk.
There are tons of prenup misconceptions floating around out there. “Prenups aren’t enforceable,” “prenups are only for the wealthy,” “prenups only protect one person,” “I don’t need a prenup because X,” and many more. Many of the things you hear about prenups in Hollywood and the media are inaccurate. Clearing up some of these prenup misconceptions may help your partner see the benefits of getting one.
Some individuals may have the perception that a prenup is only for wealthy people and may not see the need for it in their situation. This is not necessarily true; prenups can also protect the non-wealthy partner as well. You can add in lump sum clauses, alimony clauses, and phasing in separate property to provide for a less-wealthy partner.
When people think that “most” prenups “don’t hold up in court,” it’s a misconstrued fact. Sure, on rare occasions, a prenup will be thrown out, but that’s usually in occasional cases, and to get to the point of having a trial over your prenup is even rarer. Most times, parties end up settling between themselves before that occurs. However, if you created a legally binding prenup, your prenup is more likely to be enforced.
Some people have very specific confusions about prenups. For example, many people wrongly believe that their inheritance is automatically protected in a divorce, even without a prenup. It can be true that your inheritance is protected even without a prenup, but it’s not always true. You can absolutely lose a portion of your inheritance to your spouse in a divorce without a prenup. A lot of it depends on your state’s law and your situation. A prenup will simply provide an additional layer of protection for that inheritance.
Fear of discussing finances
During the prenup process, there is a phase of financial disclosure in which both parties must put everything on the table. This is because both parties need to understand their partner’s finances in order to make educated decisions in the prenup. If your future spouse is a secret billionaire or secretly in $500,000 of debt, wouldn’t you want to know?
All debt, assets, inheritances, and businesses must be shared. There is no hiding here. If you withhold any financial information during this step, you risk invalidating the entire prenup! So don’t do it!
Some spouses may fear this step. Maybe they’re uncomfortable with the idea of discussing finances, or maybe they are embarrassed about some aspect of their finances. Whatever the case may be, they may be avoiding this!
If your partner is open about this fear, then you may be able to talk through it. You could explain your feelings about the matter and listen carefully to their concerns. However, if they aren’t open about discussing their fear of sharing finances, it may be hard to know what exactly their issue is. We defer back to couples counseling, which may help you two work through communication issues.
Fear of negatively impacting your relationship
Some people might straight up believe a prenup is a bad omen. You get a prenup, and you’re basically begging the universe for a divorce. Spirituality aside, prenups are like any other financially-motivated document; they protect assets. Do you consider buying health insurance or life insurance as a bad omen? What about car insurance? A prenup is basically “marriage insurance” (it’s not actually insurance, we just like to call it that). A prenup protects your finances in the (nearly 50% chance) that you get a divorce. Why wouldn’t you get it?
If this sounds like your spouse, and they’re refusing a prenup based on worries about the impact a prenup has on your relationship, try explaining the insurance analogy to them. You can also provide them with a plethora of resources from our blog, where we have hundreds of articles written by lawyers. If all else fails, you can try a third party, like speaking to a counselor or a lawyer who can give you some perspective.
Other things to consider
It’s also important to remember that a prenuptial agreement is not a requirement for getting married. If your spouse refuses to sign one, you can still proceed with your marriage without one. However, without a prenup, you and your spouse will be subject to the laws of your state regarding property division and spousal support in the event of a divorce. Prenups override your state divorce laws on certain topics, such as property division and alimony.
Ultimately, it’s important to approach the conversation about a prenup with openness and understanding. By addressing your spouse’s concerns and working towards a compromise, you can reach a solution that works for both of you.
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]