3 Reasons You Should Consider Getting a Prenup (They’re Probably Not What You Think)
I heard an interesting statistic the other day…
Namely, there has been a fivefold increase in prenuptial/premarital agreements (or “prenups”) over the past 20 years. And according to CNBC, there’s recently been a big spike in the number of millennials who are opting to get prenups before getting married.
This probably shouldn’t have come as a particular surprise to me. A prenup is basically an insurance policy for your marriage – something you hope to never need, but that’s wise to have all the same.
And the fact is, we can’t predict what may happen in the future. I mean, none of us would ever get married if we thought we were going to get divorced. Yet, the divorce rate continually seems to hover around 50%, meaning that about half of us misjudge the staying power of our marriages.
We don’t like to face this tough reality, but people change. All the time. Sometimes they fall out of love, sometimes circumstances drastically shift, and sometimes an unforeseeable event or an accident of some kind completely alters who they are and what they want in life.
Even outside of these factors, marriage isn’t easy. Ask anyone who’s been in decades-long, successful marriage, and they’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a difficult road entailing a lot of work.
So, if you’re considering getting married (or re-married, for that matter), it’s a good idea to plan for the future now – while you and your partner are both on the same page and aligned in wanting what’s best for each other.
This is where a premarital agreement comes into play. And here are 3 more pointed reasons why you might want to get one:
1. The process of getting a prenup drafted provides you with the opportunity to have important financial conversations with your partner – ones that you might not otherwise have.
It’s no secret that money tends to be one of the biggest sources of conflict in a marriage. Often each person has been raised and instilled with different financial habits, preferences, and belief systems, unique from those of their partner. Adding fuel to the fire, money is frequently a triggering topic for people – wrapped up in a lot of fear, insecurity, worry, and stress. As a result, it’s common for a couple to clash over money matters sooner or later.
That’s precisely why being nudged to have open financial discussions with your partner that the two of you might have otherwise avoided or not had can be beneficial for your relationship. It gives you the chance to disarm any tension or fears you might have around certain financial scenarios and develop healthy communication patterns with each other with respect to money.
Having these difficult conversations with your partner early-on can have numerous other potential benefits as well, such as:
reducing awkwardness or discomfort around the topic;
allowing you to discover areas where you’re naturally aligned and in agreement;
enabling you to think through and plan for possible future scenarios;
raising your awareness of areas where you aren’t aligned with one another so you can find healthy and constructive ways to address them; and
setting you up for a healthier/more successful marriage.
2. A prenup addresses not just assets, but also debt.
When most people hear the word “prenup,” they think of a contract used to safeguard one’s assets going into a marriage – such as their businesses, investment portfolio, retirement accounts, and/or real estate property.
Perhaps as a result, there’s a common misconception that prenups are only for the rich (or at least those with substantial present or future assets that might warrant protection).
But what many don’t realize is that a premarital agreement can also be used to cover one’s debt – whether that debt comes in the form of a mortgage, a car payment, carried credit card balances, et cetera. Given the sole fact that student loan debt in the U.S. is at an all-time high, it’s increasingly important for individuals to think through how their liabilities might impact their partner in a marriage scenario.
3. Having a prenup in place can give you greater control and peace of mind.
As much as we may want to think otherwise, we don’t have all that much control in life. So it’s important to control what we can. In that vein, a prenup can be a useful tool.
First, entering into a prenup requires each partner to provide a detailed list of their debts and assets at the outset, preventing surprises (such as a hidden financial account or tax lien) from cropping up and posing problems at a later date.
A premarital agreement additionally allows you to dictate upfront what you would like to happen in a myriad of potential scenarios, including divorce. For instance, a prenup can address issues such as alimony, division of assets, allocation of debt, estate planning, treatment of inheritances, confidentiality (for the protection of one’s reputation, privacy, or business interests), how to compensate a spouse who has chosen to leave the workforce to focus on raising children, who has rights to frozen embryos, and so forth.
By thinking through various scenarios with your partner and planning for contingencies early-on, you can ensure each person is protected and accounted for, providing everyone involved with greater peace of mind.
Whether or not a given couple opts to get a prenuptial agreement before marriage is a personal decision that will make more sense for some than for others. But I hope the above reasons I’ve shared help to shed some light on why getting a prenup might be beneficial.
Kim West is the Founder and CEO of When It’s Knot Forever, a company she built to assist and empower those approaching, going through, or coming out of the divorce process. Kim (JD, MBA) is a Divorce Coach who offers her coaching services nationwide. To learn more, follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
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