Getting Married? Get a Prenup

Published July 5th, 2022

Reading Time: 5 minutes

prenup agreement

Written by:

Kaylin Dillon, CFP®
Zoe Advisor Network

Getting Married? Get a Prenup Agreement

Published July 5th, 2022 
Reading Time: 6 minutes
prenup agreement

Written by:

Kaylin Dillon, CFP®
Zoe Advisor Network

You’re planning your future together. Congratulations! Amidst all of your wedding planning, hopefully, you’re also having the oh-so-fun conversations about how you’ll manage your finances during marriage. One of the best financial moves you can make before the wedding is to consider a prenup agreement.

Bringing Up the “P” Word

You said yes to spending the rest of your life together; congratulations! Wedding planning is fun. But by now, you’ve (hopefully!) had the very important conversation about how you will manage your finances during marriage. And yes, this conversation involves bringing up the “P” word and ensuring you will both sign a prenup agreement before you get married. 

Young couples getting married rarely think about the future of their finances in the scenario that they get divorced. When you marry, you’re thinking forever, so divorce is out of the picture. The thing is, if you do get divorced, your money could end up being only partly yours.

Close to half of U.S marriages will end in divorce or separation. Only 5-10% of marriages have a prenup in place. So what are the rest of those couples doing? A few might have a pleasant and peaceful experience upon divorce, but the rest probably end up fighting over money, pet ownership, or even kids. 

The downfall of prenup agreements for most people is that signing one can predict a doom in your marriage. There’s a stigma around it being a bad omen. But this is not necessarily true! In the modern era, where most marriages have two income streams from high earners, you’re probably putting a lot of time and effort into planning for the financial future of your dreams, so why wouldn’t you plan against a worst-case scenario?

Prenup Agreements Aren’t Only For The Rich & Famous

What is a prenup agreement, and why get one? 

A prenup, also referred to as a prenuptial agreement or premarital agreement, is a contract that lists all the terms you agree to follow in the event of a divorce. Think of it as the exit plan for a business partnership, but for your marriage. 

However, did you know that prenup agreements can also be a way to plan your finances with your partner and set yourself up for a successful marriage? Not only for divorce? 

A prenup agreement is not just for the ultrawealthy or the rich & famous. It also isn’t solely for divorces. In addition to prescribing a plan should you get divorced, prenups can also be a contract for managing finances during marriage and what will happen to your assets when a spouse dies.

Getting one is a great way to be transparent and remain realistic about your future marriage. Think of it as a financial guide for a healthy marriage. 

Marriage is full of uncomfortable conversations and less-than-sexy realities. Talking about money and how to treat it is just one of them. So with high divorce rates, what could be more loving than saying you want to ensure your partner is treated fairly no matter what the future holds

For better or for worse, your marriage is a financial partnership. If you don’t get a prenuptial agreement, your state has laws to help the court decide what’s fair if you divorce. 

Those state laws can’t address everyone’s situation appropriately and are often not fair at all. Creating a prenuptial agreement allows couples to decide what they think is a fair and caring way to combine or split their finances. 

Why not decide what you two think is fair when your relationship is at a peak affection level?

Thinking About Getting a Prenup Agreement? Here Are Some Tips

Walk before you run.

If you aren’t ready for the prenup conversation, start by discussing how you plan to split expenses and share (or not share) income during marriage. What would you do if your circumstances changed due to job loss, childcare needs, or illness? Get comfortable with some of the other meaningful pre-marriage money conversations first, and revisit the idea of a prenup down the road if it’s still important to you.

Get on the same page before hiring attorneys.

Getting a prenup requires healthy communication and uncomfortable conversations. If you aren’t ready for those conversations, discussing a prenup can put a lot of strain on your relationship. If your relationship is not at a place where you can have awkward but healthy conversations about finances, diving into prenup negotiations can be like tinder to a fire – mainly if those negotiations take place between your attorneys. As much as possible, get on the same page about your goals for your prenuptial agreement before you engage attorneys.

Consult an attorney in your state.

Some states require each partner to consult their attorney before finalizing a prenuptial agreement. Some attorneys advise this even if it isn’t needed. Alternatively, some states allow for mediated prenuptial agreements, which means the same attorney can work with both parties to complete the contract. It’s best to consult an attorney in your state about the pros and cons of each approach.

Don’t forget your prenup can protect these items as well.

  • Future inheritance
  • Future income
  • Future gifts
  • Ownership in a business
  • Your rights to your pet
  • Your credit report (current and future debt)

Good news! You can get a prenup agreement after marriage too!

If you’re already married and wish you had an agreement with your partner, it’s not too late. 

A postnuptial agreement serves the same purpose as a prenuptial agreement. However, the feasibility of a postnuptial agreement varies based on your specific situation (i.e., the impetus for the contract) and your state’s laws.

Keep Your Money Communication in Check

You might initially dislike the idea of a prenuptial agreement because of the taboos surrounding the topic. However, you both must understand that a prenup is also a valuable tool to help you handle your money during the actual marriage and in the case of death. 

The best investment you can make in your marriage is to get comfortable talking about money and making financial plans together. You are on the right track if you are making some optimal financial decisions together. However, suppose you’re not actually on the same page about why or how you each feel about your plan. In that case, the reality is that your optimal financial strategy will be vulnerable to the inevitable life changes that come up throughout your life together. 

Start when the stakes are low, then continue having these conversations regularly during your marriage. Circumstances and feelings change. Your relationship will be best equipped to weather the changes ahead if money discussions are an ongoing conversation and not an avoided topic you only bring up when necessary.

My final thought? Before making a wedding budget, make a financial plan for your life together. Get on the same page about your priorities with your partner, and then get to the fun part of picking a venue, a dress, and a cake!

Disclosure: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only and is not exhaustive. Diversification and/or any strategy that may be discussed does not guarantee against investment losses but are intended to help manage risk and return. If applicable, historical discussions and/or opinions are not predictive of future events. The content is presented in good faith and has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The content is not intended to be legal, tax or financial advice. Please consult a legal, tax or financial professional for information specific to your individual situation.

This content not reviewed by FINRA

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