Ah, yes, the ever controversial prenuptial agreement. It is a document which was forged with good intentions, yet is shrouded in debate and has even been known to be the catalyst behind many broken relationships.
Both sides seem to have equally valid arguments when it comes to the debate of whether or not to commit to signing a prenuptial agreement – more commonly called simply a prenup.
One side of the coin is the mindset that the mere mention of this controversial contract shows a complete lack of trust or faith in the other partner. It is also often viewed as an admission that divorce will be imminent at some point, welcoming in such line of thinking as: Why marry at all if that is the way the other partner feels about the relationship?
Whereby the line of thought on the other side of the coin is that the signing of a prenup shows a willingness to take responsibility and is viewed as being no different than setting up a form of insurance should something go awry later down the road. We don’t hesitate to get health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, or home insurance so why fear marriage insurance?
Personally, I look at the coin in this oft times heated controversy as one side thinking from the head (thus the practicality of insurance) and the other side thinking from the heart (thus the trust issues). Which is why I advocate to make sure your reasons for wanting a prenup in the first place are to protect the interests of both parties.
If you are looking to this agreement because you in any way feel that you are unsure of how much you are willing to trust your partner, perhaps you should be rethinking the union rather than thinking of ways to protect yourself. One should never enter into something such as marriage feeling it even remotely necessary to set up protections for oneself. Likewise, if you are feeling in any way pressured to sign a prenup get those issues aired out before you get to the point of the prenup.
Once you both know without doubt that trust is not a factor in your decision-making process you both should be asking yourselves a few other questions to determine if a prenuptial agreement is even something which applies to your relationship.
People get prenups in order to keep their finances separate and to protect one another from debt, to keep real estate and other property within certain lines of the family, to provide for any children/grandchildren, and to clarify certain marital responsibilities. This document is not intended as a shield for paying child support, alimony, or as a way to wield any type of control over the other partner.
I have found that the best way to make the decision about a prenuptial easier is to list each of your assets, then list each of your liabilities. Keep in mind that to be legal each partner must disclose everything, nothing can be cherry-picked.
After those lists are made make a separate list, one I like to refer to as a future projectile list. In this list include possible children, pets, business interests, etc. that you could see yourselves as owning or having an interest in several years down the road.
Now that you have made your prospective lists ask yourselves one simple question – Could I, in good conscience, hand this list to a judge, trusting him/her to distribute the assets fairly, and then walk away content with whatever decision he/she made and with what I have left?
If you cannot be content with leaving those lists at the mercy of a stranger (judge or not), then it would be wise to seek legal council on setting up a prenuptial agreement.
In closing I would like to share with you an article I read a while back written by a Jeff Landers, who is the founder of a company that specializes in divorce advising. He made a very good point that has stuck with me since the day I read it.
I am paraphrasing here, so please bear with me, ‘Whether couples realize it or not, they already have a prenup in place. It is one that the government puts into each of their divorce statutes to be enforced through the divorce courts. So, what each couple needs to be asking themselves is not whether or not you want one but which one do you want? Do you want one which you both create together or do you want to take your chances with the one the courts already use as standard?’ (*1)
– So, if you divorce without a legal prenup in place your assets, children, pets, etc will be divided according to the laws of your state and at the whim of a judge who just may be having a bad day. I ask you, can you live with that decision?
Have a blessed day.