They certainly aren’t a sexy topic, but prenuptial agreements (also known as antenuptial agreements or prenups) are worth talking about. If you and your partner are envisioning a married future together, you both need to consider this important legal tool. And just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s lay out what a prenup really is. A prenup is simply a legal document created prior to marriage defining a couple’s financial rights and responsibilities in the event of divorce.
Prenups are all about protection—keeping your financial future secure and aligned with your needs and priorities should the unexpected strike. Over the years, prenups have gained a bit of a bad rap. But honestly, they just make good practical sense since none of us know how life is going to play out. Before you walk down the aisle, here are seven things you really should know about prenups.
- Prenups aren’t just for the wealthy. Prenups used to be seen as something only rich people put in place. But that’s just not true any longer. Average people are seeing the importance of planning ahead for unintended circumstances and putting financial protections in place. And since prenups cover debts as well as assets, many couples are including measures for dealing with student loans, credit card debt, mortgages, and other outstanding accounts. Blended families, too, are seeing how helpful prenups can be in securing family legacies.
- If you don’t lay out how things should go, the courts will for you. Part of the beauty of a prenup is the ability to define your own wishes for how finances and assets will be handled if divorce becomes a reality. Indiana is known as a “one-pot” state, meaning that marital assets and debts are often, figuratively speaking, combined and equally divided out to both parties during a divorce. This scenario can create devastating situations and unfortunate outcomes. Without a prenup, you’re really giving up a large measure of control to the legal system and could easily see something like the 50-50 division play out.
- The benefits go beyond just financial protection. While securing your financial future is a key reason to go the prenup route, there are some additional perks. Prenups force you and your partner to examine and discuss finances prior to marriage, which can be really smart conversations to have ahead of time. They often eliminate ugly surprises like finding out later about a partner’s financial predicament or undisclosed assets. While it’s not necessarily a romantic way to spend your pre-wedding time together, the process can be enlightening and fruitful.
- Prenups can eliminate potentially ugly arguments and legal battles. Divorces, by nature, are messy and often even traumatic experiences to go through. Having a prenup in place often means a little less drama and less room for argument. And since courts tend to highly favor prenuptial agreements, these legal documents can make the whole process more efficient, less expensive, and far more civil.
- The process teaches communication and compromise. While not always easy, we all know these skills are foundational in any strong relationship. Entering into an agreed-upon prenuptial agreement takes open and honest communication and the willingness to listen and be flexible. You’ll likely learn new things about your future spouse and hopefully strengthen communication muscles in the process.
- Creating prenups ahead of time means less stress. It’s never a good idea to pop the prenup idea on your partner super close to your wedding date. You want to bring it up with plenty of time to think clearly and discuss as much as needed. And remember, prenups aren’t meant to be personal, but rather practical. So present the idea in a calm and non-emotional tone and with appropriate timing. It’s also important for the courts to know that the agreement wasn’t signed under duress or coercion, so allow ample time for your partner process the idea and to get on board.
- Not all attorneys are prenup experts. Although courts favor prenups, they still scrutinize them for legality and sometimes even fairness. So it’s critical to have legal counsel with lots of experience in the prenup arena. Finding a seasoned family law attorney who has done many different prenups will help ensure that your financial future plays out the way you intend.
We’re all fans of strong and lifelong marriages around here. Our goal is to construct prenuptial (or even postnuptial) agreements for our clients that are conducive to successful and happy marriages, while wisely planning for the unexpected. If this is an area where we can help you, reach out to Cecelia Neihouser Harper at 765-637-9175.
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.