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Who Needs a Prenup?


Marriage is meant to be eternal, yet for some couples, divorce—not death—do them part. Fortunately, the divorce rate has been declining in recent years, although it was still above 15% in 2019.1 To limit the agony and cost should the improbable scenario occur, chat with your prospective spouse about a prenup.

What Is a Prenup?

A prenup is short for "prenuptial agreement," which is a legal contract a couple executes before getting married. It’s the terms and circumstances defined by the marriage that decide what happens to assets and income in the case of a divorce or even death.

While some individuals may feel prenups are for rich couples, anybody can establish provisions in a prenuptial agreement. A prenup isn’t written with the expectation of divorce, but rather, to be protected should it happen.

How Does a Prenup Work?

Each state has its own laws and processes for how to handle prenups. For instance, not every state has spousal support requirements. Prenuptial agreements might include:
  • Alimony
  • Assets and income for children from a prior marriage
  • Separating marital property and maintaining separate property
  • Estate planning
  • Pets
  • Business ownership (whether it’s one spouse or a business shared between both couples)
  • Debt responsibility and financial responsibilities
Note
Child support isn’t established in prenups; it happens via the courts.
If you’re thinking about acquiring a prenuptial agreement, you should seek for a lawyer who has expertise in marital law in your state. Costs might vary dependent on where you reside, your requirements, and the attorney you employ. If you don’t have too many assets or particular needs, it might take a few days to prepare an agreement. If you have significant demands, it might take a few weeks or months to make. Attorneys often charge by the hour, so the longer it takes, the more your prenup will cost.

Prenups might be as explicit or as generic as you’d like. If you own a house before getting married, you may establish in your prenuptial agreement that you preserve ownership after a divorce. If you’re the major earner, your prospective spouse can want spousal support in the prenup.

If you have pets or intend on obtaining any after you’re married, you may address that in your agreement. In most states, pets are considered property. Without a prenup, ownership may be decided by who paid adoption expenses, for example.
Note
There’s no one-size-fits-all prenup contract, but couples may put in place as many requirements as they see appropriate.
When setting up a prenup, you may add particular clauses: For instance, if your husband has an affair that terminates the marriage, you could be entitled to a different settlement than if you were to divorce for other reasons.

Once both parties agree, they’ll sign the papers before signing the marriage contract. If a couple wishes to be married then sign a similar arrangement, they may enter into a postnuptial agreement.

Pros 
  • Financial transparency
  • Prepares for the worst
  • Protects assets and valuables
  • Can be altered
Cons 
  • Can be prejudiced
  • Can look insulting
  • Can be distressing

Pros Explained

Financial transparency: Many couples don’t feel comfortable talking about money. Whether it’s debt, riches, or even credit ratings, money are a contentious issue. Having a prenuptial agreement requires couples to thoroughly address money. Before you get married, you’ll observe how your spouse manages financial commitments.
 
Prepares for the worst: Most individuals get married anticipating a lifetime with their spouse. But it’s rational to imagine that even if it never occurs, divorce is conceivable. A prenuptial agreement guarantees you a clear consequence, in case you do get divorced.
 
Protects assets and valuables: At its very essence, a prenuptial agreement should safeguard your possessions (and those of your future husband). If you have anything you don’t want your spouse to get if you split, it belongs in a prenup. It also protects you from your spouse. For instance, if your husband has debt or runs a company you don’t want to be accountable for in case of legal action, you may describe it in your prenuptial agreement.
 
Can be amended: You may make adjustments to your prenup after you are married, as long as both parties agree to it. You may also cancel your prenup.

Cons Explained

Can be biased: Sometimes prenuptial agreements might benefit the spouse with greater money or assets. If you don’t have your own lawyer analyze it, you may not know what you’re on the hook for. In the case of a divorce, you can be accountable for something you weren’t aware of.
 
Can look insulting: Some individuals are insulted by a prenup. Marriage is intended to be about love, so why does a business-like contract need to enter the picture? Be careful of how your spouse may respond when you raise the issue.
 
Can be upsetting: A prenuptial agreement explains provisions in the case of a divorce or separation. Giving significant thought and contemplation to the end of your marriage while you’re just getting started may be gloomy, at best.

Who Is a Prenup Best For?

While a prenup isn’t for everyone, you may find having one is preferable than not getting one.

You have a business: If you’re a business owner, you may want a prenup to safeguard your firm and your ownership share in the case of a divorce.

You have kids from another partnership: If you have kids to whom you wish to pass down assets, a prenup safeguards the objects you want your children to receive or retain in the case of a divorce.

You have assets you wish to keep: A prenup precisely sets out what you and your spouse agree to retain for yourself (and give up).

You want to control your future: Even if you don’t have many assets or much money now, you may spell down the method in which goods you could acquire will be handled if you get divorced. 

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