Prenuptial agreements may seem like preparation for the worst case scenario, but you should think of them more like a premarital insurance policy. A prenuptial agreement is meant to give you peace of mind before marriage and make sure both parties are on the same page financially before making those ‘for better or worse’ vows. These legal documents, also called “prenups” for short, can define how you and your spouse will handle certain matters, like property division and alimony, in the event of a divorce. The issue of prenups comes with its fair share of debate and negative stigma, but it’s time to set the record straight. You don’t get all worried about getting vehicle insurance, life insurance, or home insurance – why? Because those things are there to protect you if a situation comes about that you don’t like.
Myth #1 – My spouse wants a prenup because they don’t trust me.
It’s far more likely that your spouse has specific financial or estate planning goals they want to achieve with the prenuptial agreement. Oftentimes, your spouse or you are about to embark on a second or third marriage where they are entering this marriage with property and assets they were able to gain before this marriage. Many times, there are previous children involved where your to-be-spouse wants to make sure those kids remain protected financially in case he or she dies during your marriage. While these documents have earned a reputation for protecting one spouse from a vindictive or “gold-digging” spouse, prenups have far more practical and realistic uses. They can outline how you and your spouse will acquire property together or specify what happens to your property if one of you should become incapacitated or pass away. Think of your prenup as a financial planning tool, used to protect both you and your spouse, rather than a sign of distrust – that usually makes it a little easier of a pill to swallow since no one likes to think about the end of something that is just beginning.
Myth #2 – Prenups are always skewed in favor of one spouse.
There’s no reason for a prenuptial agreement to be biased and, it has to be found to be fair and reasonable by a Judge at the time it’s relied upon in order for it to be deemed valid. If you’re worried that your prenup won’t benefit you both equally, you should consult your attorney in private to come up with a solution if your to-be-spouse is proposing something that you do not think sounds fair.
Myth #3 – Only rich people use prenups.
People who have a large number and variety of assets may benefit greatly from a prenuptial agreement, but a prenup can still be extremely helpful to average-income couples for different reasons. Let’s say you married and later divorced your spouse through the court system. The judge may not know about your relationship with your pets, or the sentimental value of that furniture set you inherited from your parents, or the fact that you had money set aside for your children in a bank account in your own name. With a prenup, you can customize and define what will remain yours if your new marriage ends, which generally leads to less contested and easier divorces.
Myth #4 – I can write a prenup myself.
Unfortunately, you can’t just write everything down on a piece of paper, call it a prenup, and hope for the best. Your prenuptial agreement must be legally enforceable, otherwise it won’t be of any use to you. Make sure you’ve retained a competent lawyer to help you draft the prenup and make it stick. There are certain things that MUST be in place if you want a Court to find it is a valid agreement later. Even a seemingly air-tight prenup may be found invalid if even one step was missed in the process. If you insist on taking a do-it-yourself approach, unless you are experienced and confident in drafting legal documents, it’s unlikely that your document will hold up in a court of law.
Myth # 5 – Marriage is a commitment for forever. By entering a prenup, I’m saying we are not really committed.
One thing I can guarantee you is that whether or not you enter a prenup has no influence on whether your marriage will last. If you want your marriage to work, focus on being committed to always engaging in healthy communication with your to-be-spouse. Make sure you show him/her that you love, appreciate, and support him/her each and every day. Make your spouse a priority in your life and not just a convenience you take for granted. Make sure you grow together and not apart. The only way to keep a marriage together is for each person to give 100% each and every day. Your actions after you say ‘I do’ and the fancy party and honeymoon is over is what is going to make your marriage work out or not.
If you have any questions about whether a prenup is right for you or if you’d like professional assistance in drafting one, contact O’Connor Family Law to find out about your options. Our domestic relations attorneys can work closely with you throughout the process to ensure you are completely satisfied with your results.