How to Know if You Need a Prenup

A man and woman kissing in nature with the sun setting in the background.

First comes love, then comes prenup—then comes marriage?

While we tend to associate love and marriage with romance, fairy tale endings, and pledging to snuggle up on the couch together forever and ever amen, the hard truth is that a marriage is as much of a financial commitment as it is a romantic commitment. You may think that a prenuptial agreement is the most un-romantic thing in the world, but it can be a great way to protect yourself (and your future spouse) if you are financial imbalanced or are bringing some major assets into the marriage.

Here are a few things you should know about the prenuptial agreement—and how to know if you need one.

What Is a Prenup?

First thing’s first: a definition. A prenuptial agreement is a contract that two spouses enter into before marriage, which includes provisions on the division of property and spousal support if there is a divorce.

Although prenuptial agreements are typically only thought of as something that celebrities or wealthy business people do, there has recently been a rise in millennials requesting prenuptial agreements from lawyers before walking down the aisle. Prenuptial agreements tend to be more common with second marriages or for those who are coming into the marriage with significant assets.

Why Would You Need One

So, why might you need a prenuptial agreement? The main reason for wanting a prenuptial agreement is to protect any assets that you had before you entered into the marriage, but there are also other benefits.

A prenup can be an easy way to discuss money out in the open before you get married, ensure the financial protection of any current or future children that you may have together, and eliminate any confusion or guesswork over financial assets if there is a divorce or a death during your marriage. And yes, a prenuptial agreement does protect an individual’s assets that they had before they entered the marriage, but there is a huge benefit to discussing this while you’re still on speaking terms—just in case the worst case scenario happens.

What if My Partner Is Completely Against Getting One?

A wife and husband in bed but laying separately and looking at their phones.

If you want to get a prenuptial agreement and your partner is completely against it, the best thing to do is discuss this carefully with them. They might understandably feel hurt or that you are anticipating a divorce before you’ve even exchanged rings. However, the truth is that just because you have a prenuptial agreement does not mean that the marriage is doomed or that you want to “hoard” you money.

At the end of the day, only the two of you can decide together if a prenuptial agreement would be a deal breaker either way.

What Should the Terms Be?

There are many stories and movies that would lead you to believe that only ridiculous things are put in the prenuptial agreement, such as punishments for weight gain or extra incentives if you have more than one child, but the truth is that most judges would throw out anything unreasonable or too one-sided.

The terms of your prenuptial agreement will largely depend on what the two of you are bringing into the marriage and how you would be splitting any of these assets. Your prenuptial agreement can include anything from your record collection to your pets to a stake in a family business. The important thing to remember is this: don’t leave anything out and don’t try to withhold information.

You Will Need Your Own Representation

If the two of you decide to get a prenuptial agreement, some states may require that you have your own legal representation to complete the deal. Even if it’s not required in your state, it’s still a good idea to make sure that your own interests are fully represented in order to make sure that everything is 100% fair. In fact, in many cases a judge will throw out a prenuptial agreement’s terms if both parties did not seek their own legal representation.

Remember: a Prenup Does Not Equal Divorce

Two young women laughing together.

A prenuptial agreement may not be the most romantic idea in the world, but just because you get one does not automatically mean that the two of you are destined for divorce court. On the contrary, a prenuptial agreement can mean that you are trying to take care of each other in the event that the worst possible scenario happens.

You Can Also Get a Postnup

If you initially decided against the prenuptial agreement and are having second thoughts after you’ve walked down the aisle—don’t worry. You can still get what’s called a postnuptial agreement. This works similarly to a prenuptial agreement in that it determines how assets are split in case of a divorce, but it’s just completed and notarized after the wedding. Should you decide to get a postnup, you want to do this as quickly as possible as any assets that you’ve accrued together since you’ve been married will make them marital assets.

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