It’s too bad prenups got a bad reputation, because they can be a terrific tool to bring up the tough conversations before the marriage. “He doesn’t want kids now, but he’ll change his mind!” laughs the new bride, only to discover 5 years later he really did not want kids and he didn’t change his mind. Setting expectations in marriage are what responsible adults do. This is a new relationship; never mind that you’ve been together 4 years. Marriage takes both of you to another relationship level.
Putting Your Hopes on Paper is Not Unromantic
It’s a terrific exercise for couples: Setting your expectations in marriage or in any relationship forces you to think about the what-ifs. Right now you’re a two-income family, but what if one of you is unable to unwilling to work?
You’re happy and living in the happy-ever-after land but what if one of you wants to end the marriage? Prenuptial, cohabitation, and marital agreements are the best way to define your long-term goals. You may discover some surprises, too.
Life Changes and Challenges
A prenup defines your expectations in marriage and in fact, strengthens your relationship. Your marriage continues to evolve and you become a family with assets, property. Later, your prenup forms the base for estate planning, another document that answers a new set of what-if questions.
The main reasons couples should create a prenup is often because of a prenup can:
- Define legal and financial responsibilities from previous relationships/marriages.
- Explain marital assets and their distribution in the event of a divorce.
- Guard you, your company, and your business partners in the event of a divorce.
- Protect the partner with higher net worth.
- Provide for children from a previous marriage.
- Reinforce your estate plan.
- Shelter you from your partner’s pre-existing debts and financial obligations.
Here are some of the expectations in the marriage that can be included in a prenup:
- Agreeing to put one or the other through school
- Income, deductions, and claims for filing your tax returns
- Investments arrangements
- Management of household bills and expenses
- Property distribution to the survivor, including life insurance, in the event of death
- Retirement benefits ownership
- Management of credit card spending and payments
- Savings contributions per partner
- Separation of business from marriage
- Management of joint bank accounts
- Settlement plan for potential disagreements, such as mediation
Your Prenup Cannot…
- Change or challenge legally binding child support or child custody actions (A court would never uphold it.).
- Detail anything illegal.
- Provide a financial incentive for divorce.
Expectations in Marriage Deserve Respect
She may think it’s silly that no matter where you relocate, your grandmother’s rose bush moves with you. Perhaps she didn’t know how much that rose bush means to you. This is a good time to have discussions about the little things, too.
A prenup should cost less than the wedding and add more value to your marriage over the years. When you begin your marital relationship with respect for each other, it will positively impact your life together. There are no guarantees, but with this kind of respectful, responsible beginning, you have good odds of living happily ever after.
Everything Changes; Keep Your Contracts Current
A prenup is a contract that puts your expectations in marriage on paper. It’s a legal contract between you and your partner. And when your expectations change, you should update your prenup to reflect it.
Can a prenup be created after we are married?
Sure; it’s called a postnup.
Can a prenup be voided?
Yes, when both partners agree it’s no longer needed.