According to the Census, couples are waiting longer than ever to get married. In fact, from 2008 to 2016, the median age at marriage rose by two years: 28 for women and 30 for men. Compare that to 1950 when the average age of marriage was 20 for women and 23 for men. That delay in marriage has allowed women to focus on their careers and accumulate more wealth and independence prior to their walk down the aisle. However, at the same time, women who have divorced within the last year are almost twice as likely as men to be in poverty. When it comes to prenups, these are statistics women need to keep in mind. If you’re wondering how you can protect your past and your future, stay tuned! We have you covered.
The myth that prenups are only used by wealthy older men marrying their young trophy wives, is just that – a myth! Prenups are intended to protect both parties and more and more couples are opting for prenups to keep things fair in their marriage. However, women can still get the short end of the stick. So, ladies here’s what to ask for in your prenup to ensure you are protected.
With women marrying later and later, that gives them more time to accumulate property and assets of their own. While property owned prior to marriage is generally considered separate/non-marital property, it is possible for non-marital/non-community property to be transmuted into marital property. For example, let’s say you have a bank account prior to marriage. Generally, once you get married, this account would be considered non-marital/non-community property. However, if your spouse has access to the account and makes withdrawals and deposits, and you deposit marital money into the fund, down the road, a court could determine that the account is now a marital/community.
Instead, in your prenup, you can designate the account (and all other premarital property) as your separately owned, non-marital property. Of course, even after you designate the account as separate property, you should avoid commingling the account with marital funds!
By going through the process of creating a prenup with your soon-to-be-spouse, you can get on the same page about how you would like to handle finances and your intention to keep your own hard earned assets separate. Having this discussion can make execution of the agreement during marriage much smoother. This can also lead to fewer mix-ups when it comes to commingling marital and non-marital property. Open communication combined with a plan (i.e. your prenup!) is huge.
Alimony is very important for parents that decide to stay home to care for their children. Even if you have no plans to give up your career if you decide to have children, alimony should still be considered in your prenup. The issue is, when one parent decides to become a stay-at-home parent, they are sacrificing the furtherance of their career and of course, eliminating their source of income and independence. Their labor (i.e. childcare) becomes essentially unpaid labor. If stay at home parents aren’t protected, should the marriage fall apart down the road, they could be left with no income, savings, retirement, and a huge gap of time on their resume.
Alimony can ensure that a stay-at-home parent will be financially supported in the future if the marriage ends. Think of this as essentially compensating the parent for their unpaid labor and the risk they assumed by foregoing their career. Consider including an alimony provision in your prenup which will provide alimony in the event that you become a stay-at-home parent, or any other scenario that could potentially result in an unfair divorce outcome. If you and your partner aren’t keen on alimony, you can also consider lump sum payments or allocation of marital or separate property. For example, perhaps if you give up your career, you will be entitled to half of your partner’s retirement account, or the marital home. The options are endless!
Gifts are generally (depending on your state) considered separate/non-marital property. For example, if your rich uncle gives you a big, fat check every Christmas, that money would be considered your separate property. This principle can even extend to gifts from your spouse. For example, that Birkin bag you received for your birthday (lucky girl!). However, especially when it comes to financial gifts, it important to explicitly declare them to be separate property and ensure that you don’t commingle them with marital property. Your prenup can help clarify this and protect gifts you receive that are given solely to you.
Also consider any potential inheritance you might receive. While, again, inheritance is generally considered separate property, it’s really important that you explicitly declare that your inheritance is off limits, and again, don’t commingle.
Did you know that debt can be considered marital property? That means that you could be on the hook for debt accrued during the marriage, even if the debt was accrued by your spouse. This can even extend to business debt. Ending up with the bill for your partner’s debt after a tough divorce can really add insult to injury. In order to protect yourself, you can address debt in your prenup. Specifically, you can specify that any debt accrued during the marriage is the separate debt of whoever obtained it. Of course, this won’t cover loans taken out on your joint property. For example, your mortgage on the jointly owned marital home. As women are twice as likely to come out of a divorce impoverished, make sure that you protect yourself from your partner’s financial decisions.
The above list of course is not exhaustive. Here are a few other items women should consider including in their prenups:
- Your business
- Infidelity clauses
- Pet custody
- Terms protecting children from a previous marriage
- Social media clauses
- Estate plan protection
You worked hard for those premarital property and assets! Make sure they are protected with a prenup. Ready to get started on creating the perfect prenup? Consider HelloPrenup the premier online platform for creating prenuptial agreements. Through our collaborative questionnaire you can create a fast easy and affordable prenup from the comfort of your own home!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].