Prenuptial agreements have long suffered a reputation problem on two fronts. First, there is a belief that prenups are only for the rich and famous. Second, there is a belief that prenuptial agreements are “romance killers” that essentially doom a marriage before it starts.
Neither of these beliefs is true. In fact, prenuptial agreements are growing in popularity among average, non-wealthy couples. And there are many observers who claim that the discussions prompted by prenuptial agreements can actually strengthen a future marriage rather than doom it to failure.
Why Prenups are Growing in Popularity
Americans are, on average, entering into first marriages later in life than previous generations did. While it was once common for men and women to get married in their late teens, many couples now get married in their mid- to late-20s. This means each spouse has had more time to start a career and amass some personal assets. And they will likely want to protect those assets in divorce.
How Prenups Can Strengthen a Marriage
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us got married primarily for love, and didn’t give a lot of thought to the practical realities of sharing our lives and finances with someone else. This isn’t to say that the diving-in approach is doomed to failure. But all couples need to have these difficult discussions at some point. It is important to be on the same page about:
- Spending and saving habits
- Income and debt (disclosing both)
- Whether each spouse wants kids and, if so, how many
- Finding childcare vs. having one spouse be a stay-at-home parent
- Long-term life goals
Two of the biggest topics of contention between couples are finances and children. You will likely discuss children ahead of marriage, but are you willing to have hard discussions about money? Creating a prenuptial agreement can force you to have those difficult conversations and hopefully resolve differences ahead of tying the knot.
And when it comes to planning for children, your prenuptial agreement can include provisions to protect a spouse who leaves the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent. Non-financial contributions to a family should not be discounted, especially because it can be very difficult to reenter the workforce years or decades after leaving to raise kids.
Each Spouse Needs a Lawyer
When creating a prenuptial agreement, you and your fiancé each need to be represented by a different attorney. This is to ensure that the terms are fair to both parties and that you each receive objective advice about how the terms of the contract could impact you. This part may seem especially unromantic, but it is one of the best ways to protect each of you from an unfair agreement.
To learn more about how our firm can help you, visit our prenuptial and postnuptial agreements page.