Prenuptial agreements and possible divorce are probably the furthest things from your mind as you and your future spouse begin preparations for your wedding. It’s certainly not the most romantic notion, especially when you’d rather be picking out the song for your first dance or choosing a hotel with the best honeymoon suite, but talking about a “prenup” doesn’t have to put a damper on the festivities.
Just as you want to consider safeguards for any wedding day “what ifs,” think of the prenuptial agreement discussion as an indication that you and your fiancé care enough about your relationship to plan for any unexpected bumps, including the possibility of one day wanting to part ways. Below you’ll find some guidelines on how to make this a pain-free part of your premarital plans.
The Importance of Prenuptial Agreements
One of the reasons a prenuptial agreement is important is because it makes your wishes known and honored in the event of your death or a divorce.
No one knows what the future holds. Just in case your life path takes you down separate roads, a prenuptial agreement will proactively prepare the two of you on how you are going to separate your marital assets and debts. This may help you to avoid the pitfalls often found in contentious divorces, such as who gets what and how much.
It also can identify and appropriately assign premarital assets and debts. For example, you may want to ensure your generations-old family business stays in your family and will not be an option for co-ownership or to be sold in the event of a split. You also don’t want to be saddled with paying off your exiting spouse’s credit card debt or student loans.
Broaching the Subject of a Prenuptial Agreement
The ability for you and your significant other to talk about what may be considered touchy subjects, like prenuptial agreements, is a testament to the solidity of your relationship. If you two have difficulty sharing information now, you may want to consider how these sorts of discussions will take place once you’re married. Working on communication before making a marital commitment is crucial to your future together.
Granted, discussing a prenuptial agreement with your soon-to-be life partner can be a bit uncomfortable, particularly at this celebratory time. When, where, and how to bring up the topic may depend upon your relationship. You and your fiancé or fiancée may be quite open about these kinds of matters, and this may be just another important discussion between the two of you.
For those who feel a bit apprehensive about broaching the subject, below are some suggestions you may want to follow to ease into this talk.
When: Discuss the prenuptial agreement early
You don’t want to present the topic a couple of weeks before the wedding ceremony. Give your fiancé or fiancée time to think it through so that he or she has plenty of time to go over the details and give it the consideration it warrants. This also gives you two time to get your financial and sentimental valuables outlined and in order.
Where: Find a location where both of you feel comfortable — personally, emotionally, and physically
When your partner is preparing for a presentation at work or when you have visitors coming into town, you probably want to wait until after these events are over. Try to bring up the subject where you two normally have discussions about your life goals. If it’s at the dinner table or on an afternoon walk in the park, this would be the time and place.
How: The best approach is to be honest and direct
Specifically outline why a prenuptial agreement is important for both of you. Whether it has to do with the idea of one of you delaying your career aspirations to stay home and raise your future children, or if it’s not taking on the other’s debt, state your concerns. Recommend working on these issues together so that disputes are avoided.
What to Include in a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a legal document, and an attorney should be consulted to ensure it is done correctly. There are a few issues you may want to discuss and consider including in the prenuptial agreement:
- Who are your beneficiaries going to be and how do you want your inheritance distributed?
- How do you want your premarital assets divided?
- How do you want to distribute income earned during the marriage?
- How do you want to assign ownership of properties acquired before and during your marriage?
- Do you each want to consider waiving alimony?
Remember, a prenuptial agreement is in no way a prediction of the future state of your marriage. It is an intelligent approach to merging your lives together. This way, both of your wishes are known and you can proceed into your life together openly and honestly.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.