No one enters into a marriage hoping for the worst. But it’s easy to let the romance and thrill cloud our judgment, too. Putting a solid prenuptial agreement into place can be the smartest way to ensure that both you and your partner are entering into marriage on the same page about your finances and future together. While prenups themselves are pretty straightforward, there are plenty of myths and mistakes that can confuse or even hinder the process. We want to clear up some of the most frequent mistakes and confusion out there. Let’s dive in.
5 Common Mistakes Involving Prenuptial Agreements
- Poor (or no) legal representation. Just like you wouldn’t want a foot surgeon operating on your brain, it’s critical to find an attorney who specializes in prenups. They will know how to create one that best meets your needs and will be enforceable in court. Also, trying to create a prenup yourself might be tempting, but don’t do it. It will be nearly impossible for the document to hold up in court without proof that an attorney was involved. Believe it or not, Steven Spielberg and his ex-wife Amy Irving made this exact mistake. They created their own prenup (written on a napkin of all things), which was discarded by the court during their messy divorce.
- Thinking you don’t have enough wealth or assets to need one. Back in the day, it was assumed that only the wealthy needed a prenup. But that’s not the case at all. Whether you’re well-off or living paycheck to paycheck, a prenup means you get to maintain some control over your own financial future in the unfortunate case of a divorce. Without one, the court gets the most significant say in what you may or may not end up with, as well as what debts you might be responsible for. And in Indiana, assets and debts are often divvied up 50-50, regardless of what’s fair or not, thanks to what’s known as the state’s “one-pot” theory.
- Being afraid to bring it up in the first place. We get it. Talking about topics like divorce and finances can make anyone’s stomach turn. It can be awkward and stressful to even think about these things. But some premarital to-dos are way more important than choosing the officiant and picking out the right flowers. Delaying or avoiding the conversation altogether can spell disaster. We recommend bringing it up well in advance of your big day and just being matter of fact about it. Often these types of transparent and deep conversations only serve to strengthen bonds and increase communication skills in the long run.
- Signing something you aren’t comfortable with. Sometimes we make hasty decisions just to put something to an end. But if you are taking the time to protect your future by creating a prenup, it’s important to do it thoroughly and well. So make sure you are comfortable with the prenup before you sign on the dotted line. And it’s also critical that neither you nor your partner are being coerced or pressured to sign in any way. Courts have been known to throw out prenuptial agreements in these situations.
- Letting your emotions get in the way. The goal of a prenup is to reduce future stress, not create stress in the here and now. If you or your partner start feeling upset or frustrated during the process, it’s time to step away. Take a breather and come back to it. (This is one reason to make sure you start the conversation early.) Also, having a neutral party like an experienced attorney can be super helpful as you navigate these sometimes awkward waters together.
Prenuptial agreements don’t have to be complicated, super stressful, or time-intensive. We can help you streamline this process and end up with a legal agreement that will serve you both well in the long haul. Reach out to Cecelia Neihouser Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-637-9175 to get the conversation started.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.