Who Needs A Prenup Agreement?
More and more couples are entering into prenups or “what-if-we-divorce” agreements before making their way to the altar. Charting a break up strategy for something meant to be forever might not seem very romantic, but this isn’t the case. A well-thought-out prenuptial agreement is actually a very romantic gesture. Planning your financial future together is a very loving act but part of your financial discussion needs to include a discussion about the what-ifs of life
The decision to enter into a prenuptial agreement is very personal and requires buy in for both parties in a relationship. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and couples should base their decision on their own particular circumstances.
What is a Prenup?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines prenuptial agreement as “an agreement made between two people before marrying that establishes rights to property and support in the event of divorce or death.”
It is a legal agreement that outlines how the parties will share their property and assets acquired before and during the marriage. The agreement can also outline if spousal support is payable, how long and how much is paid on break up.
Who Needs A Prenup Agreement
Contrary to popular belief, prenups aren’t only for the ultrawealthy. While a prenuptial agreement is certainly beneficial for people with significant assets or debts before marriage, other circumstances also warrant the cost and effort of entering into a prenup. These include a prior divorce or children from previous relationships. Let’s look at situations where a prenup is a must.
Either or both partners were previously married
Partners who were married before and had to bear the brunt of a bitter, long-drawn-out divorce may be wary of tying the knot again without securing their future. This is especially true for couples who feel they were taken advantage of in their previous marriage. Even if the prior divorce was amicable, the partner has already divided their net worth once. It doesn’t make sense to divide that half a further time, when a prenuptial agreement can protect the assets and property.
Either or both come into the marriage with children
Many parents want to protect the financial interests of their child or children from previous relationships. A prenup can ensure that any asset or property meant for the child can be identified and excluded from division on divorce. Many parent-adult child relationships can avoid strain and tension which arises with a new partner and new marriage if there is a prenup.
One of the partners is wealthier
Many believe that having a prenuptial agreement is an assurance that either partner is not entering into the marriage for monetary gain. This is especially true in cases where there is a disparity in wealth between the couple. It almost always is the richer partner or the one with the higher earning potential that asks for a prenup. On the other hand, the less wealthy partner may want to show the wealthier partner that he/she is not only marrying for the money. A fair and reasonable prenup will ensure that both sides are taken care of in the event of break up.
One partner has more debt than the other
While debt incurred during a marriage is may be considered the liability of both partners. Debt from before marriage is the sole responsibility of the partner that incurred it. Debt incurred prior to marriage is treated like an “asset” on equalization. In the case of a premarital debt, a prenuptial agreement can protect and outline what happens to the debt and what happens to debt paid off during the marriage.
A prenup can stipulate that any joint property or assets acquired during the marriage are not used to pay premarital debts or that joint funds are not used to pay off a spouse’s business debt incurred during the marriage.
One partner plans on being a stay at home parent
A prenup can provide security to a partner who chooses to stay home to raise a child or care for an elderly family member over career and advancements which could put them at a disadvantage should the marriage fall apart in the future.
There is inheritance involved
Generational wealth or inheritance is considered non-marital property. However, how the inheritance is used by the family can change how the money is classified and may ultimately become marital property. The partner inheriting can protect it with a prenup that clarifies that any inheritance remains a non-marital property that cannot be claimed by the other partner.
In the absence of a prenup, it is always best to maintain an inheritance in a separate account and in the name of the spouse that inherited it to prevent an unintentional transmutation.
When there is a business involved
In the case of family-owned businesses or partnerships, a prenuptial agreement ensures the business is not destroyed or impacted if the parties split. If one spouse has been solely responsible for building a business pre or post marriage, they can draw up a prenup restricting the other from acquiring a controlling interest in the business.
To keep personal life private
In cases of marriages that are in the public eye, one or both parties can use confidentiality clauses in prenuptial agreements to ensure that their personal life is kept private and not disclosed to a third party intentionally or unintentionally.
With a 2.3 per 1000 population divorce rate and with experts predicting a spike in divorces post the pandemic, it is always wise to consult with a lawyer about a prenuptial agreement if you are planning on getting married shortly. Marriages are meant to be forever, but a prenuptial agreement can lessen the pain, surprise, and expenses should a divorce do you part.