Wedding season is about to ramp up, and for all those engaged couples that are contemplating a prenup NOW is really when you need to start that process. To reduce the chance of having these agreements challenged or possibly invalidated later in court, matrimonial attorneys will always encourage clients to work on full disclosure with ample time for each party to consult his/her own counsel, and with a strong preference for the final signing to occur at least 30 days BEFORE you say “I do.”
Many wonder if they need a prenup, which I believe is akin to a safety belt. Do I want the car to crash? Of course not, but just in case I put that seat belt on every time I get into my car. So now if you know the odds of a first-time marriage lasting are about 50/50, and less than 30% of second marriages last, don’t you think it’s prudent to invest in a document that provides for an orderly separation in the event things do not work out?
Some worry about the cost. Well, a prenup probably costs less than what most engaged couples spend on flowers, and unlike those floral arrangements, which will be dead and discarded within days of the wedding, an agreement that defines what is joint vs. separate, and sets limits on any potential alimony claims, will live on until the parties death or divorce, unless they agree to modify or nullify it sooner than that.
Another common concern I hear is how to even bring up the topic. Admittedly, it’s not an easy topic to bring up compared to where you should go on your honeymoon. But it should not be awkward to talk about a prenup– because you just need to be clear that this is about addressing a concern you and/or your family and business partners have, and that you need some financial security and peace of mind. If your soon to be partner for life can’t understand that this is important, and won’t try to help address key issues you want to cover in an agreement, these should be some pretty big red flags that you don’t want to ignore.
If you find it difficult to discuss money issues with your partner, go get some professional advice. If you are not on the same page about money, go meet with a financial planner. If it’s a communication issue you are having, go see a pre-marital counselor. There really are a ton of great advisors out there that will gladly work with couples to help put you on the right track so your marriage gets off to the best possible start with a clear understanding of each person’s expectations and responsibilities.
Ultimately, while not much has changed in terms of the basic content of a prenup over the 20 years that I’ve been working with couples on these agreements, a huge shift has occurred in terms of the public’s perception of them. Once considered a document only the rich & famous, or older couples (previously burnt in a divorce) would want, money-conscious Millennials have really embraced the prenup as a simple legal instrument that all professional couples should at least consider prior to finalizing their nuptials. These forward-thinking younger couples now realize that 1) you need to protect your future interests, even if you have nothing now; and 2) there is rarely a down-side to minimizing your risks in life.
By Regina A. DeMeo