'Do We Need a Prenup?' Why You Two Lovebirds Really Should Discuss It

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PrenupYours. Mine. Ours. The words take on new meaning when you're getting married -- and entirely different new meanings if you're splitting up. A lot of couples got engaged Thursday, and while no one can predict their future, many people find that a prenuptial agreement helps increase their security during the marriage, and ease the transition should it end. To others, starting out with a request for a prenuptial feels like stacking the deck against a happy union.

"Prenups offer predictability and marriage is unpredictable," says divorce attorney and prenup expert Randall Kessler of Atlanta. "You're essentially trying to figure out what's going to happen, and where you'll be financially, when you get divorced."

For some people, a prenup is a no-brainer. "If you've been through a terrible divorce, you probably want one," says Kessler. "If you have children from a first marriage and want to protect them financially, or if your parents gave you a sum of money and you want to reassure them your partner won't run off with it, you probably want a prenup."

Start the Prenup Process -- Even If You Don't Finish It

The conversation about whether or not to have a prenup can be a good entry into a conversation about finances that every couple should have before tying the knot: Who will pay for what? Who will stay home with children? What if someone wants to go back to school? How much of our paychecks will we save for retirement? But too often, says Lisa Bahar, a family and marriage therapist from Dana Point, Calif., those conversations stop before they really get started.

"Money is emotional," she says. How we make it, how much we have, whether we're spenders or savers, how much debt we've taken on -- all of these subjects can be sensitive, which can easily lead people to avoid talking about them at all. So bringing in other people to help facilitate the conversation, whether clergy or financial professionals, can be helpful, she says.

"Marriage is a contract, like a business arrangement," Bahar says. "There's a reason there's paperwork involved with marriage. It's a contract between two people, and that includes finances. The irony of it is how people hold that emotionally."

Both Kessler and Bahar agree that the sooner a prenup is discussed, the better. "Don't wait until the day before the wedding," warns Kessler.

"For some people, [being asked] for a prenup is a sign that your partner doesn't trust you. For others, it gives added security. If you're someone who absolutely won't get married without one, it's best to have that conversation up front," says Bahar.

Standardized Divorces

With or without a prenup, certain assumptions hold true in most cases: "[The idea that] what I acquired up to the date of marriage is mine and what you've acquired is yours is pretty common in most states," says Kessler.

The exception, of course, is in domestic partnerships or same-sex marriages: Much depends on the degree to which your state officially recognizes those relationships -- or doesn't. In such cases, sharing assets as business partners can help mitigate some of the financial issues, if not the emotional ones.

Even people without assets might want to consider a prenup if they expect they'll have them in the future. A struggling writer who finally sells a book, the lead singer of a garage band that gets a hit, or a college athlete drafted to the big leagues can see their financial live change overnight.

When 'Will You?' Leads to 'Let's Not.'

Some couples can't get past the prenuptial discussion, which can be a reason many people never start it. That, says Bahar, would be a mistake. "It can start a conflict prior to the actual marriage, so sometimes people avoid it to not disrupt it," she says. "You're dealing with very real, long-held emotional issues about trust, independence, and security passed down through generations. In some cases, working through these could delay the actual marriage."

Whether the ceremony is delayed or canceled, Kessler says it's better to find out if a couple is financially incompatible long before they ever have to sit in front of a divorce attorney. "If you're that incompatible," he says, "isn't it better to know before the wedding?"

However, while discussions about finances are indeed necessary for every couple about to tie the knot or take the next step, prenuptial agreements may not be. Couples with fairly equal income, wealth, and educational levels who come into the marriage with approximately the same worth shouldn't face too many issues should the marriage not last.

Beyond that, one other simple rule of thumb applies: "Who doesn't need a prenup are the people who don't have money and who won't have any money," Kessler says.


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11 Comments

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Cristian Bermudez

Go to http://rosenbergfirm.com/ if you need a prenup. They are fantastic at their job, and their ability to speak Spanish really helped us out seeing as my fiancé is Puerto Rican. A financial safety net in a marriage is an important aspect of it, and the lawyers at Rosenberg firm can provide just that. They helped me with ease and perfection and I’m sure that they will do the same for you.

March 28 2014 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
linmarco

" A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he's married."....H.L. Mencken

February 21 2013 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
srgaz30

Who does not need a prenup? People who stay married. If you are starting out with a prenup, just don't get married, because you obviously are not fully optimistic about this to begin with. And no, it is not like a business agreement. If you think of it like a business agreement then I'm guessing it's going to be work, and you won't like it very long. Geez people, how cold, shallow, and materialistic are we?

February 15 2013 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crimeslawyer

Men. Don't get married. There is nothing in it for you. If you want to be bored out of you mind, have no sex, and have to deal with a woman's hormonal emotional roller coaster, then get married. Otherwise, stay single and enjoy your life.

February 15 2013 at 1:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gdurdeniii

Family court in SC is fits the definition of a Kangaroo court to the tee. Taking in the fact that over 50% of marriages end in divorce, for a man planning to survive in a state with this type of Court, a Pre-Nup is essential. The law concerning divorce in SC gives the presiding Judge the power of a discretionary decision with very few if any guidelines. The Family Court Judge Decision will not, in almost all cases, be overturned by a higher Court. Also, a Divorce agreement read into a transcript may or may not be honored, even if the Judge agrees in the transcript of the final hearing. Marriage is a 'buyer beware' action that is rapidly becoming obsolete.

February 15 2013 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gilbert

It's amazing how the attitude of women about Pre Nups has done a complete reversal. In the days when Men had all the money, Women were brought to tears at the mention of Pre Nup by a fiance, with clams of coldheartedness and not really loving or caring about them. "you care more about your money than me, boo hoo hoo." "you don't really love me after all, boo hoo hoo."

Now that women have money and assets of value they suddenly see no reason to share them with the "love of their life" in a divorce settlement. WHAT HYPOCRITES!

Now suddenly they view Pre Nups as a responsible thing to protect "what they have." when in the past the vehemently resented any attempts by men to protect what they had by using Pre Nups.

They always claimed they didn't want to be left with nothing, but now they have no problem making sure the man is left with nothing in a divorce.

February 15 2013 at 10:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gilbert's comment
theycallmeroy3

Blame it on Barbie. You've heard of the new, " Divorced Barbie?" Gilbert?

She comes with all of Ken's stuff.

February 15 2013 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
frank1946

Marriage should be a 5 Year Lease w/Option to Renew if You're Happy !

Save Billions in Legal Fees and Court Costs.

Not to mention all the Anxiety and Pain.

February 15 2013 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to frank1946's comment
Gilbert

I agree. I worked with a couple that verbally had that agreement. Everybody thought they were married but they had a personal agreement, that after a period of time either one could leave without any legal claims being made on the other. for a Common Law Marriage.

My state no longer recognizes Common Law Marriages nor legally supports them.

February 15 2013 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
epplehead

If you are going to enter a Pre-nupt, then you shoud each retain attorneys for consultation purposes but MEDIATE the issue between your selves rather than pay two lawyers thousands of dollars to bark at eachother. Hire a professional family law mediator to help in the process. Do it at least 6 months before the weding so it can be signed and put in the safe deposit box before the celibration!!

February 15 2013 at 6:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mikelookup

A long as it is the Massey prenup! All others fall short!

February 15 2013 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply