While not the most romantic pre-marital topics, it seems to be becoming an increasingly necessary one.

If you are engaged and thinking about a prenuptial agreement (or a prenup as they are commonly called), take a look below at some of the pros and cons. Then, decide if this is something you want to pursue.

Pros:

  1. Protects any assets that you brought to the marriage (pre-marital assets) from being divided in the event of divorce.
  2. Can establish or eliminate alimony or spousal support ahead of time
  3. Helps determine how things will be split without having to go to court. (The percentage can be determined when you have a level head, not when you are emotionally charged)
  4. Allows both parties to know completely where they each stand financially
  5. Forces a pre-martial financial conversation

Cons:

  1. Can be considered unromantic
  2. Can create an unequal fiancial playing field
  3. Can be more complicated than necessary (some couples who want to exclude an inheritance end up not only addressing that issue but other issues that they did not intend to outline_
  4. The document may not be as well drafted or clear as the laws of your state which can be better equipped to handle the division of assets/debts.
  5. Cannot predict the future

Unfortunately, misinformation and lack of understanding have given prenuptial agreements a bad name.

We believe that prenuptial agreements should be viewed as a step towards a healthy marriage and open communication.  Prenuptial agreements are often seen as negative, or a step towards divorce. Despite their stigma, well-drafted prenuptial agreements can make your marriage stronger, more caring and more carefree. We have decoded a few common “prenup” misconceptions for you.

Misconception #1

A prenuptial agreement says, “I don’t trust you and doubt our relationship will work out.”

Truth: In a prenuptial agreement, it is crucial that both parties are open and honest with each other about finances and other matters—there are no secrets. Part of a prenup is full disclosure of all your assets and liabilities to your future partner in a net worth statement of finances.

Prenups also give couples the opportunity to discuss hopes, dreams, and lifestyle expectations for the future.  Because a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime, sharing long-term expectations for the future is a crucial step that many forget.  Unmet expectations are often the cause of marital breakdowns.

Prenuptial agreements provide the reason to be fully honest with your partner in terms of both personal and financial expectations.  When working out the agreement, a husband and wife to-be may broach delicate topics that otherwise would have been left unsaid.   Exposing vulnerabilities can become an intimate and romantic exercise—the opposite of cold and unloving.

Misconception #2

Prenuptial agreements are only for millionaires and celebrities.

Truth: Prenuptial agreements are not only the famous, but benefit just about everyone in different circumstances.

Prenups are critical for families in which parents plan to leave an inheritance or make gifts to children.  Prenups are also crucial for the protection of small or family businesses, or professional licenses or practices.  Prenups are also a must if one partner supports the other through schooling, especially graduate or professional school, and if a partner is leaving the workforce to raise children.  Prenuptial agreements are also imperative if one partner has responsibilities to children from a previous marriage or to elderly parents. Many people think of prenups as an insurance policy on a marriage.

Misconception #3

Young people don’t need prenuptial agreements.

Truth: This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The young need prenuptial agreements because most young couples do not have assets at the start of the marriage, and at the time of potential divorce, all earnings acquired during the marriage need to be divided.  Today’s secretary may be a doctor in ten years, and futures must be protected.  Many young people are not realistic, and are not aware of domestic relations laws. Prenuptial agreements are also fully customizable—and can include any terms that a young couple wishes.  Agreements can be tailored to fit your circumstances, such as a division of assets, or none at all.  Prenups also allow you choose what to do about one another’s debts.

Misconception #4

Prenups are unnecessary because courts resolve disputes in the event of divorce or death.

Truth: In court, one cannot be sure of any outcome, as the court system can be unpredictable.  And, if one chooses to retain a lawyer and litigate, the process could be draining, both emotionally and financially. Prenups allow couples to determine the future—almost like an insurance policy—and override the laws of the state. Prenups put the future into a couples’ hands—no one else’s.

If you are debating whether or not you want a prenuptial agreement or prenup, but cannot seem to decide if it is right for you, contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC. A prenuptial agreement lawyer can help walk you through the process.