When you get engaged, you are happy and thinking of love and marriage. It is not a time where you think “one day I will be divorced.” However, may you should. Think of it like this, you buy car insurance. You do not plan on getting into a car accident – but it sometimes happens. Car insurance helps you in the event of an accident, and a prenup helps you in the event of a divorce.
The reality is somewhere between 41% to 50% of first marriages end in divorce. The likelihood of divorce increases in second and third marriages. By not having a prenuptial agreement, you may be putting yourself into a position where you may lose assets you had before you got married. A prenuptial agreement can protect you (and your family) in the event of a divorce.
Here are the top ten reasons for getting a prenup:
- You have more money than your partner. You worked hard (or maybe you benefited from your family working hard). Do you really want to lose some of what you have in a divorce? If you have any assets – a home, investments, retirement accounts, collectables, vehicles, etc. – you want to protect them. Just because you own these things before you got married does not mean that they won’t be part of the marital estate in the event of a divorce. In spelling out what you have and what happens if there is a divorce, you can protect yourself from losing some of your assets.
- You make more money. Just as in the answer above, you want to protect what you have worked hard to earn. The laws regarding alimony may cause you to pay a lot more than you want if the marriage ends.
- You make less money. A prenuptial agreement not only protects the spouse who makes more money, it also protects the spouse who makes less. If you divorce and you make significantly less than your spouse, you may be disadvantaged as the resources available to you. By entering into a prenup, you can reduce the economic disparity.
- Your spouse-to-be has debt. Your fiancée has a bunch of credit card debt. You get married. You pay off the debt. You get divorced. Do you get a credit for paying off all that debt? Not necessarily. A prenup can help you recover some or all of the money you used to pay off your partner’s debt.
- This is your (or your partner’s) second marriage. You may already have gone through the difficulties of divorce. Do you want to go through them again? Up to 67% of second marriages end in divorce, so the odds are against you. You (or your spouse) likely have assets to protect or obligations to consider. A prenup can help to make sure what you have left is protected.
- You own part of a business. In the event of a divorce, do you want to be business partners with your ex? If you do not have a prenup, that could happen. Just like in #1, you worked hard in your business. You do not want to lose it in a divorce.
- You plan on not working to raise the children. Do you expect to quit working to take care of the kids? If you are out of the workforce for a significant period of time you may be at a serious disadvantage if you need to go back. You may need to gain additional education or become recertified in your field. This will take time and money. Without a prenup, you may not have the needed opportunities and protections to get you back into the workplace.
- You may have concerns about the divorce laws in your State. The laws may not provide you with the relief you expect or desire in the event your marriage fails. If you end up in Court, you will subject to the laws of your State. With a prenup, you can both draft an agreement that you find reasonable and fair in the event of a divorce.
- You have seen the horrors of divorce. Your parents divorced. Your sister, brother, best friend, etc. may have divorced and you saw how stressful it was. A prenuptial agreement will not eliminate all of the pain and stress of a divorce. But it can lessen the fear of the unknown and reduce the costs, which can take away a great amount of the problems associated with a divorce.
- You are getting married! This is the best reason to get a prenuptial agreement. Negotiating a prenuptial agreement helps you to learn more about your intended spouse. One of the biggest things you find out is how you both deal with difficult conversations. If you can be successful in coming to terms in your prenup, you will be able to work through other difficult times in your marriage. A prenuptial agreement requires disclosure and honesty. If you cannot discuss a prenup without fighting or hiding things from your fiancé, then maybe you should reconsider getting married.
No one plans for a marriage to fail. Neither should you. But you should protect yourself in the event of a divorce. Several months before the wedding, you and your intended should meet with attorneys to discuss and negotiate a prenuptial agreement. It could be one of the best investments of your life.