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Want a Stronger Marriage? Consider a Prenup

Want a Stronger Marriage? Consider a Prenup

Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous. They can be just what a marriage needs to overcome the emotional turmoil of finances.

Most of us only know about prenuptial agreements because of the very public exploits of the rich and famous, who it seems have a marriage shelf-life of three to five years. However, when we regular folks get married it’s for life; so there’s really no need to think about a prenuptial agreement, right?  You may want to think again. And, it’s not because your marriage has a 50 percent chance becoming a divorce statistic, although that is the unfortunate reality today. Rather, it’s because the financial dynamics of marriage have evolved to where a husband and wife may have much more to protect.

No offense honey; I love you, but...

Certainly, any discussion of a prenup between love birds can dampen the mood; but, due to the real world dynamics of marriage today, an increasing number of couples are looking at it from purely practical standpoint, especially those going to the alter for a second or third time. Prenups may not have the stigma they once did, but they shouldn’t be entered into for the wrong reasons as they can do a marriage (or divorce) more harm than good if not properly designed.

A prenup is a legal document drafted by an attorney that describes the pre-marriage financial assets of both spouses, and, in the event of separation or divorce, specifies the disposition of assets held before, during and after marriage. Essentially, a prenup enables a couple to step outside their emotions to consider their financial arrangement and what is best for the marriage. In this way, prenups are designed to make a marriage stronger.

What’s Mine is Mine

Still, prenups are not appropriate for everyone. They really only make sense when one or both of spouses brings a significant amount of assets or debt to the marriage. Any couple should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement when one or both spouses has:

  • Assets, such as property, cash, securities
  • Ownership in a business
  • Potential inheritance
  • Children from a prior marriage
  • Family members who dependent on them

Prenup as an Equalizer

It’s not uncommon in a new marriage for the couple to choose to have one of the spouses stay at home to raise the children, or delay a career to obtain an advanced degree. For any circumstance that creates a financial disparity, a prenup can include a provision for “equalizing” the financial status of a spouse whose contributions to the family were not directly financial.

As Natural as Pre-Marital Counseling

Some couples may feel that, as practical as a prenup might be, even the mere mention of one can be bad “juju”. However, when used as a process to establish open communications on the subject of money (often a point of contention for married couples), it can actually strengthen a marriage. When both couples can feel more emotionally secure about their financial arrangement, all that is left are the practical decisions that have to be made. Pre-marital counseling has become much more commonplace for couples interested in strengthening their emotional bond. It would seem to make sense to include some pre-marital financial planning to strengthen their financial bond.