I Asked My Partner for a Prenup Even Though We’re Not Rich—Here’s Why You Should, Too
A marriage is like a legal business relationship, after all.
Right after my fiancé and I got engaged, I had my first-ever panic attack. It wasn’t that I was scared of marriage or felt my partner wasn’t the right person for me. I just got nervous about what tying the knot actually meant.
Planning a wedding easily makes the idea of marriage feel like one giant party, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how 40 to 50% of people get divorced in the U.S. So I sat my fiancé down and shared how important I felt it was to learn about all the legal changes that will happen once we get married. That included conversions about possibly getting a prenuptial agreement.
I’ve heard the “prenup” word floating around in news stories when it came to celebrities getting married, but I didn’t know anyone personally who had gotten a prenuptial agreement (or at least was open about sharing that they did). When I did some initial research, it seemed like it could be a good idea, regardless of how much money each person had in the bank.
My partner and I wondered, at first, if we were even the right candidates for a prenup. We don’t have a ton of assets, and our money situation is pretty even in terms of how much cash we both have. To help, I decided to contact a few divorce lawyers to hear why they recommend people get a prenup, and here were the top reasons they had.
Reasons to get a prenuptial agreement:
You’re entering a legal relationship.
While chatting with divorce lawyers before getting married might sound taboo, it was a great education on what really changes between two people when they get married.
Jacqueline Newman, divorce lawyer and author of The New Rules of Divorce: 12 Secrets to Protecting Your Wealth, Health, and Happiness, shared that prenups are not just for people with a lot of money or assets; it’s actually something everyone should consider.
“Some people will say, ‘I don’t need a prenup. I have nothing.’ Meanwhile, they have bank accounts and retirement accounts,” she says. “When the divorce rate is around 50%, divorce and prenups should be normalized. At the end of the day, marriage is a legal business relationship so we need to be practical, and getting a prenup can strengthen a marriage.”
Hearing this made both my ears and my fiancé’s perk up. That’s why we decided it could be good to learn more and consider having one before we get married.
So you can have a clear exit plan.
A big reason why prenups are helpful for anyone is that they can help you and your partner have clarity about how your marriage, assets, property, and more, will end if you decide to get a divorce. It’s almost like having the blueprints established about how to split everything up ahead of time in case you two decide to part ways.
David Reischer, a family lawyer, explained that a prenuptial agreement is a smart way to clarify what happens should a marriage fail.
“The reason why a prenuptial agreement is so important is because property brought into a marriage very often becomes co-mingled and it is not always clear after many years together what is separate property and what is communal property,” says Reischer. “A prenuptial agreement is a great legal tool for clarifying these issues and expresses the mechanics for how property is to be distributed should a marriage end in divorce. Anyone with significant assets that is thinking about getting married without a prenuptial agreement would be taking a significant risk.”
While my fiancé didn’t think having a fail plan before we even got married was important, I began to think that maybe it would help to have a strategy in place for how we’d amicably divide our future life together if our marriage ended up coming to an end. Even though it sounds like I’m approaching this in a negative way, I’m not. I’m approaching it with a more business-like mind since part of getting legally married is the merging of two people’s lives (and assets).
It will help establish boundaries around you and your partner’s finances.
Money has always been an awkward topic for me to talk about with others, including my fiancé. A few years into dating, I forced myself to have honest conversations with my partner around finances to get on the same page about our spending habits, future planning, and savings goals. This allowed us to be transparent about our current money situation and our hopes for the future.
Even though we both have relatively the same amount of money in our savings and investment funds, having a prenup can be something that serves as guidelines for the future.
Rajeh A. Saadeh, a divorce lawyer, explained that a prenup does not have to only set forth what happens in a divorce; it can also dictate how the spouses will operate from a financial standpoint, including whether and to what extent they will have joint assets, how much each of them will contribute to joint assets, allocate responsibility for expenses, and even decide whether they will file joint or separate income tax returns.
In some states, once you get married all of your assets become marital (or join assets) without a prenup in place. Either way, having this agreement can allow both people to plan how they’d like to split up their current accounts, which to keep separate, and which to merge.
My fiancé and I don’t plan on getting married until later this year and we’re starting to piece together what our prenup would say and include. No relationship is one-size-fits-all and neither are prenups. So if you’re interested in learning more, do some research and speak to a divorce lawyer. It’s better to know more before you tie the knot and tie together your life and assets with another person.