By Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
When people walk down the aisle and get married, they hope the union will last a lifetime. The cold reality, however, is that roughly half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce as of 2012, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the odds of splitting from a spouse so high, people turn to prenuptial agreements to protect their assets. These agreements are legal contracts that have both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement can protect your financial stability. This is the reason the majority of people create and sign a prenuptial agreement. In community property states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin (Alaska is opt-in) â€“ the law says that, without a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse share assets, property and debts equally regardless of whose name is on titles, registrations or deeds. That can mean big financial loss if your spouse didnt contribute as much to the marriage monetarily as you did. In separate property states where the law says you own most non-joint assets and debts in your name, a prenuptial agreement can create a more even division of property and assets. Prenuptial agreements also can ensure your spouse doesnt get family heirlooms, and they define clearly what you and your spouse consider marital and separate property.
A prenuptial contract can protect the financial stability of your children. Without a prenuptial agreement, your spouse may receive monies or assets you intended your children to have. Many couples work together for the good of their children even after separating, but if your marriage creates a blended family, a prenuptial agreement can stop your spouse from taking assets or property for his own kids over yours.
You may be able to outline spousal support. The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act of 1983 is applicable to just over half of all states. In states where this law applies, it is possible to use a prenuptial agreement to create a basis for spousal support.
A prenuptial agreement reduces conflict. A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract the courts can enforce. When you sign one, you eliminate the possibility that you and your spouse will argue over particular issues, as the agreement dictates how those issues are to be handled.
Disadvantages of Prenuptial Agreements
Creating a prenuptial agreement implies you dont see the marriage as â€œforever.â€ Prenuptial agreements come into play only when a marriage dissolves. By creating one, you send the message there is a real possibility your marriage will fail. Your spouse might even take a prenuptial agreement as evidence you wont fight for the marriage if problems come up. This can be a real romance killer.
Establishing a prenuptial agreement can create burdens if circumstances change. People cannot predict everything that will occur in their lives or marriage. A prenuptial agreement is based largely on assumptions founded on current situations. Should situations change, the prenuptial agreement can complicate what otherwise would have been fairly simple matters. You will need to update your agreement just as you would your will, life insurance and similar contracts.
Signing a prenuptial agreement may necessitate a change in lifestyle. Even when prenuptial agreements cant outline spousal or child support, they do influence the division of property and assets. Therefore, a prenuptial agreement can guarantee that some money has to go to your spouse or children. This can mean you have a lower percentage of funds after the divorce with which to maintain your lifestyle.
Prenuptial agreements are subject to a judges opinion. Even if you sign a prenuptial agreement, if you take the agreement to court, its up to a judge to decide the validity and reasonableness of every clause. If he thinks part or all of the agreement is ridiculous, he can throw it out. Although an attorney who specializes in divorce can reduce the likelihood of this happening by alerting you beforehand to potential risks, there is no way to predict what a judge might think given the current context in which he reviews the contract. Non-financial (personal) issues such as whether your spouse will wear makeup or take out the trash are permissible in states where the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act applies, assuming the stipulations dont violate public policy or other laws, but the more personal issues you include in a prenuptial agreement, the more likely it is the judge will see the contract as less serious.
Prenuptial agreements can cause psychological problems such as, fixation on the prenuptial agreement, feelings of fustration, depression, resentment. I believe prenuptial agreements can cause harm to marriage, and sometimes be the cause of divorce by causing an inbalance in the relationship.
I totally disagree with Anne. A prenuptial makes sure that when you go into a relationship that there is no “Golddigger” motive potential. It assures that the person is really in Love with you and not a potential windfall. When somone has already accumulated there wealth and knowlege the new spouse really didn’t help with that knowledge or work to accumulate the assets… SO if that is a stressor to the new spouse… then that stress is probably because they were hoping to have some “free Lunch” factor… and that was taken away. If someone is really in love they will understand that of course it wouldn’t be fair to get “Extra” cash just because they found a person that has already work and saved. For me if a women says Oh you want a prenup and that means I don’t have faith… I simply say, I want true love, if you really love my money more then the idea of being with ME… then I know this person is more worried about losing a potential “free lunch”. I am with a woman that absolutely agrees with me. IF you take away the extra financial benefits… you have a real way to see if someone totally loves YOU and not your cash!.
And, if a spouse agrees to a prenuptial agreement because she NEVER wanted a free lunch, but is hurt that her fiance ever considered she might, then the resentment begins. She sets out to PROVE that he was wrong, and in doing so (paying more than her fair share), creates even more hurt feelings and the marriage ends. It seems to me that if two people love one another enough to make a commitment for life before God as the witness, a prenuptial agreement is nothing more than another means by which an attorney can make a buck. It’s hard to understand how someone loves you when the advise of an attorney over-rides a 20+ year relationship where both parties have always contributed equally. Hmm.
If a couple is retired, then a aprenup is advised. I have a friend who wanted to sell her house, have her friend sell his house and buy a home jointly. She sold hers, gave her son L50,000 UK pounds and then wanted her friend to sell his house so tht he wold have a lot more money left over than she. When he didn’t, she was angry. He made a will stipulating tht if he died first, she could live in the house until she died. She was not happy so he changed his will leaving her 25 percent, his daughter 70 percent and the two daughters of a previou friend who died 5 percent between them. I feel he thought of everyone. My friend was very angry. He died, she got her 25 percent and was very angry.
right on Mary and Ann!!!
Why would someone love you enough to give you the most valuable thing they have, their life, and expect the same from you, but not want to share their possessions with you? Also, I know this is the “modern way” but why is it if a woman falls in love with someone who has more money than she, that everyone assumes she is a “golddigger”.
I realize there there is a lack of male perspective on this page (aside from Mr. Englehardt). This page seems gender divided (men being pro, women being con), with a few exceptions of individuals in the middle. Let me start off by saying that although i understand the cons for it, I feel men, for the most part are at a disadvantage when it comes prenups. If you have a prenup, you’re deemed as a less romantic individual who is already assuming the worst in a marriage, while not having a prenup predisposes men to potential financial burden. Granted since the the 1970’s prenup laws have geared towards equality, there is still a skew towards men paying women.
My view on prenups is that they are nothing more than financial and property insurance in the sense that it prevents conflict and resentment IN THE EVENT OF DIVORCE. It essentially protects both parties in a fair way. Just because I have health insurance doesn’t mean that I’m going to perform reckless actions with myself knowing that my hospital bills are covered. Same concept apples to prenups: just because I sign a prenup doesn’t mean that I’m already assuming the marriage is going to fail. It’s to protect me in case something irreconcilable occurs in the marriage (or car accident that sends me to the hospital in regards to the health insurance example). Those who walk in with preconceived notions of failed marriage or see signing a prenup as a death note for marriage have security issues that need to be worked out.
In essence, prenup= health insurance ( or any other insurance for that matter; protection against unforeseeable circumstances of life
I learned in college that couples who come from different social classes have the hardest time sustaining marriage. My fiancÃ© and I have lived our entire lives with extremely different financial incomes. As we get closer to our wedding date the pressure is on me to sign a prenuptial agreement. Before meeting with his lawyer, I have become a member of a church and wanted to marry him under the eyes of God, and promise to God that I will be his wife no matter what changed, and work hard to keep our marriage a happy one. After meeting with his lawyer and getting educated more so on what prenuptials entail. My mind wanders to thoughts of: “Would he choose to stay married to me if I was to get a terminal illness?” (In sickness and in health) “Will he punish me during our marriage for not making as much money as him? (for richer or poorer) Rest on his laurels and stop working to keep us a unit, leave me for another women or just because. (till death do us part) All of this kind of defeats the purpose of becoming a unity under God’s eye’s if the law is the higher power. At this time we have postponed our unity. Before I sign a legal document that states I don’t matter in this marriage. I want to acquire a life insurance policy for my adult children being the benefactors, and an IRA for myself that he isn’t in tiled to as to secure my future. All of this greedy money business has taken the magical love and dedication I felt for him away. Once I acquire these assets for myself, I’m not sure I want to marry him under the eyes of God. I suppose it’ll be a paper signing process that will protect him and myself WHEN we divorce. Weird!
[…] agreements can protect financial stability, which is the biggest reason for their creation. Some states mandate that if you and your spouse do […]
Ok well if you are going to get married shouldn’t you already know the person good enough to know if they are a gold digger or just there for your money? It really does not show much for your judgement if you are willing to marry someone that you don’t truly know. When you go into a marriage it should be with the thought of forever not a maybe. As with any contract there are always ways to get around certain things in them and the other party can still walk away with something outside of the prenup. Maybe it is better that if you are rich then you should just stay single because obviously you will always feel someone is after your money and that would avoid any hurt feelings and you can keep the most important thing to you….you money.
[…] If you both fully agree with each other, then the contract need not be that long either. Some prenuptial agreements are only five or six pages, however if there are many assets and debts, then your agreement could end up spanning out over a hundred or so pages. It really depends on how much you are needing to agree on, and the terms of those agreements. […]
I am really in need of a good referral for a Kansas attorney that is an expert or reasonably well-versed in post-nuptial agreements. I have a wife who filed divorce, now wants to reconcile legitimately I believe, but I am a high income earner and she is the opposite and I only want to proceed with a post-nuptial agreement going forward or a prenuptial agreement after reconciliation after divorce as I have worked hard my entire life to establish a post-work retirement plan and I see that I am not in complete control of that anymore. One of my teammates is throwing the game as you might say. I want security going forward in reconciliation. I have read about prenups, postnups/intramarital agreements and stpiulations/orders as part of dismissing the divorce case…if I have that right? I have an attorney but she does not seem real knowledgeable on this issue.
I like what you’ve said, Steven. My boyfriend brought up the idea of a prenup recently, and I’ve been struggling with it ever since. Your perspective helps. 🙂
In this days in times people on both sides should be open to a pre nump. We as a people these days are not like we use to be. We don’t have the value system and work ethic to have a home like our parents did. The strong work ethics and two people trying to get to the next level is rare these days. There was more loyalty back thin. People where more caring and nurturing. These days in times people are trying to get over in the name of love. Woman and men these days are trying to cling onto instead of partnering with. In every relationship i have ever ben in there was alway one person who pulled more weight in the relationship. The question is should they be complisated. The person who didnt make as much or didnt contribute as much. The pre nump is your insurance policy for your life. It should be a crime for a woman or man to be able to collect off of your spouse and want half of everthing and know u didnt contribute like he did and didnt want to go any higher because your better half is doing mor or making more.
they,parted,either,because,they,fell,out,of,love,or,he,found,another. She,was,lucky,to get,spousal,support. It,protects,both.Levels,the,field,somewhat
This post is over 3 years old… Anyways…
I personally agree with the agreement, regardless if future spouse if richer or poorer.
When my family moved to the country we started off with nothing, and life was hard. Then over nearly 20 years we accumulated about over million of wealth by hard work, and obtained professional careers. I know 1M and professional career may not be much for some, but it represent two generations of effort…
So regardless of spouse’ wealth, I don’t mind working together to continue building during the marriage, but at least the portion that was brought into the marriage should be protected.
A pre nuptial agreement, however, is not right for all couples. If you and your soon-to-be-spouse were not previously married, are just starting out your careers, and have neither children nor any substantial assets, then a prenuptial agreement may not be necessary.
Talking about having a pre-nup did not bother me at all and I feel as though I agree with everything except when I consider the scenario of the husband dying leaving me with no security is a nagging flag. Prior to reading over the pre-nup I suppose I was only thinking about the romance and not true-life(/death)realities. I have no doubt that my spouse-to-be is willing to be my partner in everything, but if he is no longer here, my fears are not settled about starting over “again”. I also realize this is true regardless of having a prenuptial, the thoughts, however, are disparaging.
Simple, SIGN the pre-nup….
How many times have you been head over heels and it didn’t work out…how many times did loved ones do you wrong. ……how many times did you just volunteer to give your months pay check to a complete stranger…..how many people you though we’re great and circumstances brought out the devil in them….how can you tell if someone has alternative motives……how many hand out to hard working successful people who started at the bottom get…..you worked for EVERY penny so you should keep it….
.if you are driven…have goals…have self esteem and know your going somewhere in life then you don’t need to rob someone of their hardwork…SIGN THE PAPERS if you love me and not my money. ..
People change in life and that’s a fact …..you don’t know how some one will react and behave if your ill…out of work…financial stress….who takes the kids
You have to earn everything. ….SIGN THE PRE NUP PERIOD
[…] The Pros and Cons of Prenuptial Agreements … â€“ Prenuptial agreements can cause psychological problems such as, fixation on the prenuptial agreement, feelings of fustration, depression, resentment. […]
In certain countries of the world divorce is not allowed. No divorce, no division of assets, no gold diggers, no resentment, no problems. Further, property can only be majority owned by the wife. But with no divorce, who cares? Everybody wins!
Please look at it in a positive way also. Would you want to inherit your spouse’s debts. I think its a protection
Funny, I was just chatting with my girlfriend about this yesterday. Pre-nups are the way to go. It’s the smarter financial decision for couples as you aren’t seen as a single entity by the law. If you buy a second property without prenups, it is seen as a second property, and taxed. If one person in the relationship goes all in on their business and loses everything and more, the debt collectors will take both your cars, empty both your bank accounts and help themselves to both of your investments, and take both those properties of course, because you never took the pre-nup precautions that could protect you both. What happens when one of the partners dies, oops, looks like our bank accounts and activity on our investments has been frozen! Sorry for you remaining spouse, looks like you’ll have to go around with a begging bowl for about two years. Prenups protect a couple that plan to be together. Not getting prenups is the unromantic decision I’d say, “Don’t you even think about divorcing me, cos it’ll cost ya!”
A prenup is wanted by someone who is basically betting against the marriage.
I have been engaged for 10 years and my fiance is 64 now, wants to get married and retire. I am 61 and have 5 adult kids, ages 26-33. My fiance wants a prenupt and it is mainly so his favorite sister would inherit something and my kids not take all–at least that is what I surmise. She is over the top and profusely loves me and my kids, but if something happened to him I am sure that she’d turn into a real vixen. He has money but has no possessions except a map collection. I don’t want anything of mine going to her. What would you do? I guess I will have him list what he has and how he’d want to divide up things and if I disagree, tell him to buzz off.
I do have a nice retirement and have 30 grand apiece going to each of my kids and took my fiance’s name off of some of that money. My fiance has his sisters’ names on all of his accounts. His parents were both remarried and I think he feels screwed over in the inheritance department. So he has a real problem with trust. I always thought that inheritances go to kids–not siblings.
To all the females on here especially the first poster Anne Cummings (who has a funny name!), whom is trying to claim talking about a mutually beneficial marriage contract called a ‘pre-nup’ causes her depression etc. do shut up!
It is not betting against the union, it is like marriage itself! A legally binding contract that protects both parties. In case you don’t know this Miss Cummings, there are a lot of women and some men out there that marry for financial gain only, others male or female that when getting divorced become vindictive cunts that want to hurt you and often don’t care if it is also hurting their children, believe!
Any woman that freaks out like you I would have to reconsider being with, because not many normal well adjusted women with an ulterior motive go ballistic and take it so personally when some protection for both of you that also benefits you too stupid is mentioned.
Lastly,I’ll just say this it is the 2000’s and women are equals and it would be an insult to treat women like babies that can’t talk about adult issues without being an self-centred brat. I think more of women and in these new times a lot of women have good careers and their own assets they may want to protect.
I would never sign a prenup… It just opens the door to spousal abuse knowing that you get little to nothing if you leave the marriage and they can basically treat you as they wish. I have experience. I got my own and can get my own. I don’t NEED to get married.
Thanks for explaining how prenuptial agreements are a legal contract that couples sign to prevent the possibility of arguing over particular issues. This could help you protect yourselves and prevent problems. When creating your prenuptial agreements, you’d probably want to make sure you hire the attorney so you can work with an experienced professional who can help you figure out what to include.
Anyone who thinks “love and trust” will win the day has never been thru a divorce let alone a nasty divorce where the person you thought was solid acts 180 out. Until the wage divide in this country is fixed Men will nearly always foot the bill – and in many cases very unfairly. A pre-nup is essential. If the couple has trouble negotiating that – how will they ever deal with a real crisis.
I think a prenuptial agreement can be a motivational tool to keep the marriage intact. I believe in the philosophy of you came into the marriage with nothing then you should depart with nothing. As far as I am concern, only thing I would be willing to give up is child support and the house so they may still have a roof over their heads. No spousal support or alimony.
All the comments from women saying that a prenup is “betting against the marriage”, “it’s supposed to be all about love”, etc. are such nonsense. If you really love him for HIM and not his money, and he loves you, then the prenup NEVER COMES INTO PLAY. He isn’t “betting” against ANYTHING. You all act as if a prenup shows that he WANTS the marriage to fail. That isn’t the case at ALL.
It’s interesting to know that having a pre-nuptial agreement will help you to work with your partner for the good of your children even after separating. My brother recommended my brother having a pre-nuptial agreement with his partner to prevent future problems, and we are looking for advice about the benefits of it. I will let him read your article to help him understand how a pre-nuptial agreement can benefit his children.