If you believe what you see in the movies and tabloids, asking for any prenup spells doom for a relationship.
However, it’s worth noting that many Americans no longer feel this way. According to a recent Harris poll, around 15% of couples report signing a prenuptial agreement—up from 3% in 2010.
Though these documents require you and your partner to discuss a potential divorce, they don’t need to signal a lack of faith in your relationship. They’re valuable tools even if you’re both young and won’t bring a great deal of money into the marriage. They can even be helpful if you never divorce at all!
If you have doubts about discussing prenups with your partner, here are a few key benefits that might change your mind.
Avoid a Costly Divorce
Let’s get this one out of the way: a prenup is a vital tool when it comes to a smooth divorce.
As you’d expect, the divorce process can be time-consuming and costly.
Here in Pennsylvania, even a mutual consent divorce can cost you a few hundred dollars. Worse, that figure only grows if you need to add court costs and legal fees to the table. If you and your partner are arguing on several fronts, you could spend thousands of dollars for a court to help you come to an agreement.
With a prenup, on the other hand, you can avoid arguments over the division of property, alimony payments, and similar headaches. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your preferences and sign the contract in advance. As such, there will be no need to pay an attorney to help you argue over the details.
Decisions Come From You and Your Partner
The truth about fighting for property in a divorce is that it often makes both parties unhappy with the outcome.
The state of Pennsylvania has specific statutes to help its courts decide how to split a couple’s property. Many couples find that they don’t agree with the court’s final decision, which may not be ideal for either party.
Prenups give you an opportunity to make these crucial decisions with your partner while you’re getting along. As you’d expect, this is often better than letting a third party make the decision on your behalf!
Prenuptial agreements offer a great deal of flexibility.
As mentioned above, you can make crucial decisions about your existing property and assets. In addition, you can even waive or set predetermined amounts for spousal support. You can also make decisions about the sharing of living expenses and access to retirement accounts.
Protect Property for Your Heirs
Prenups allow you and your partner to decide in advance what constitutes your mutual “marital property.” In other words, if you have any valuable assets you want to stay with your family—especially if you have children from a previous marriage—you can set these assets aside for them. This means that your heirs won’t have to fight for property that should belong to them if you have a contentious divorce.
This protection is why we sometimes see parents asking their adult children to sign a prenup upon marriage. The prenup ensures that all family property stays within the family, avoiding the risk of losing it to a former son- or daughter-in-law.
Protect Yourself from Your Partner’s Debts and Liabilities
If either you or your partner carry significant debts, a prenup can be a simple way to shield the other party from those debts. This can keep creditors at bay in the case of a divorce. The same is also true if one of you carries a higher risk of litigation, such as when you own a small business.
Protect Your Business
Along those lines, a prenuptial agreement is a great way to protect an existing business. With a prenup, you can prevent your spouse from seizing your company’s finances or acquiring a portion of your business upon divorcing. A prenup can even keep your partner from raising the cost of spousal support based on the amount of money your business earns.
Establish a Line of Communication Early On
Sure, talking about divorce isn’t romantic, but even couples who never get divorced can reap the benefits of a prenup.
A simple premarital agreement is a great way to open a line of communication into some serious subjects, including money matters and legal formalities. Discussing a prenup will force you both to discuss your money management preferences and, as a result, your values, goals, and dreams.
When you and your partner talk about a prenuptial contract, you can expect to discuss your credit and savings, your plans for retirement, your expectations about work, saving for college funds, and much more. These kinds of transparent and honest conversations are a great foundation for a solid and lasting marriage.
Though the initial discussions may be hard to start, a few simple tips can help you frame the discussion as beneficial to both of you. At the end of the day, a prenup is a document that should make both of you feel heard and valued. It’s something you’ll only negotiate and sign as a precautionary measure.
Protect Yourself With a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a lot like a life insurance policy: no one wants to think about the possibility of needing it, but it’s good to have one anyway. Because these documents allow you and your partner to create transparency around your assets, financial goals, and values, they can be a great way to protect your marriage in the present. Should the need arise, these predetermined agreements can also smooth your separation and protect your property in the future.
If you’re ready to draft a prenuptial agreement, having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial. Our expert Pennsylvania attorneys have spent years specializing in all aspects of family law, including the creation of prenuptial agreements. To learn how we can help you through this process, contact us today.