Chances are that you have hazard insurance on your home. It would be unwise not to, wouldn’t it? You’re not expecting the house to ever be damaged by fire, but the insurance is there “just in case.” If it does happen, your losses are minimized.
Prenuptial agreements follow the same principle. Critics have decried them as evidence that future spouses don’t trust each other and accused them of being tools that enable a monied partner to protect his or her assets from future division. While it’s true that some relationships are based on mistrust and there are greedy individuals who want to share their lives but not their money, prenups are not an indicator of expected marriage failure. To the contrary, they can make a loving and committed relationship even stronger.
Here are four key reasons why you and your spouse-to-be should consider a prenuptial agreement.
Reason #1: ENCOURAGES OPEN COMMUNICATION
While prenups are often seen as the beginning of the end for a couple, they can actually make your relationship stronger by requiring you to discuss and agree on important matters in advance. For example, if you plan to have a family, your agreement could establish whether or not one parent will stay at home with the kids or, if you will both continue to work, how childcare costs are covered. These discussions can reduce the likelihood of future conflicts by getting you both on the same page from the beginning if you hadn’t already done so.
Reason #2: ENABLES FINANCIAL UNITY
Couples probably fight about money more than anything else. A prenuptial agreement can establish ground rules about how money will be handled, such as whether or not you will keep your separate bank accounts or merge them after marriage. By talking through these issues and reaching an accord before walking down the aisle, you actually set the marriage up for success.
Reason #3: PROVIDES REASONABLE TERMS FOR DIVISION OF PROPERTY
Chances are that both of you have personal property that you want to keep separate from the marital estate. This could be a summer home your grandmother left you, an antique sports car that you love, or anything else that has strong sentimental value. A prenuptial agreement can help you retain ownership of these assets in the event that you decide to divorce, provided that such an arrangement is not unfair to the other party.
Reason #4: PROTECTS THE FINANCIAL FUTURE OF YOUR CHILDREN
If this is a second (or third, or fourth!) marriage for you and you have children from a previous relationship, your spouse could deprive them of a large portion of their inheritance by claiming half of your assets during a divorce. While you probably don’t anticipate such an event, signing a prenuptial agreement that protects your children’s rightful interests is one of the most responsible things you can do as a parent.
Most people get married with every intention of spending their lives with one another, but the future is never guaranteed. While it can establish ground rules and encourage communication prior to the marriage, a prenuptial agreement also ensures that important protections are in place in the event that the relationship goes awry. Think of it as a form of insurance for your financial well-being.