Generally, prenuptial agreements simply set out what a couple wishes to define as separate property versus joint/marital property, and in the event of divorce they lay out how their assets will be divided and how they want to address the issue of alimony. It is best for a couple seeking a prenuptial agreement not to wait until the last minute. Each side must be prepared to provide the other with full financial disclosure, and it is preferred that each party have his/her own attorney to review and negotiate the terms of this contract. These contracts are meant to provide engaged couples with peace of mind.
Some couples are unable to finalize a prenuptial agreement before their wedding, but they still want to have a contract formalizing their understanding of what will be defined as separate versus marital property, and the limitations they want to set with respect to alimony or spousal support. This can be accomplished with a postnuptial agreement.
Regina has written and lectured extensively on the importance of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, not just for second marriages or those with significant assets. Financial security is a common goal shared by many, and those entering into a committed partnership need to be able to have candid discussions about money, along with a plan to minimize uncertainty and chaos in the event of a separation or divorce.
Here are some questions for engaged couples to consider:
- Wedding Budget – How will you finance your wedding? The national average is about $30,000 per wedding. Pick your venue early and determine your guest list asap. (Venue sizes and other vendor prices are determined based on the number of wedding guests). Interview several photographers, florists, musicians, caterers, and check references. Review all your contracts carefully.
- Discuss Finances– Have you fully disclosed your income, expenses, assets & liabilities? Do you want to exchange credit scores? Do you have enough life insurance? When will you update your estate documents and beneficiary designations? Are you in sync re your desire to save vs. spend? Do you need to see a Financial Planner together? How will you handle your household budget?
- Separate vs. Marital Assets– What assets do you want to keep as separate? Are you going to maintain a separate account for any inheritances, gifts, or premarital funds? What will you consider joint? Do you want to memorialize your understanding in a legal document?
- Alimony– Are you both self-supporting? Do you want to waive alimony or set caps on duration or amount with a prenuptial agreement?
- Conflict Resolution– How do you handle conflict together? Could you benefit from a class or some sessions with a couples counselor to improve your communication skills? A great book is Dr. Gottman’s “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”
- Mission/Vision/Values– Have you discussed your dreams and aspirations as a family? How often will you review the M/V/V? Do you want to establish quarterly or annual check-ins for the partnership?