Thinking about divorce before you’re even married can feel unseemly. But you should still know when and how to ask for a prenuptial agreement.
Talking about money and property is uncomfortable. And discussing what would happen if you and your partner were to split up feels like anticipating failure. Nevertheless, each partner in an engaged couple should know when and how to ask for a prenuptial agreement.
What a Prenuptial Agreement Does
A prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”) spells out each partner’s rights and responsibilities in the context of marriage. The prenup establishes clear expectations and boundaries for how a couple will manage money, property, debts, and other assets during their married life. It also specifies how the couple would divide property in a divorce and what would happen if when one partner died.
Why a Prenup Is Important
Working on a prenuptial agreement together forces a discussion of a couple’s financial habits, the property they intend to keep separate, and what they expect in terms of joint financial responsibility in the marriage. The conversation can be weird and even surprising. Many couples worry that even talking about it will break up their relationships.
But if you can’t talk before you get married about what you expect of each other during your marriage, you’re setting yourself up for conflict and feelings of betrayal. For example, it’s hard to claim that your partner is keeping financial secrets from you if you never asked them about money. It’s even harder to discover after you’re wed that your partner expected you to be the sole provider in the marriage. Settling these things beforehand will benefit your relationship in the long run.
When To Ask for a Prenup
Prenuptial agreements can benefit all kinds of couples, but they’re especially advisable when a significant disparity in assets is involved. If one partner comes into the marriage with far more wealth than the other, the disparity can create a sense of imbalance. A prenup anticipates what would happen if circumstances were to change and the wealthier partner was no longer able to provide the expected level of support—or, conversely, if the partner who came with less became more financially successful.
Other times in which a prenup makes sense are when one partner has been married before, there are children from previous relationships, or one or both partners own a business.
How To Ask for a Prenup
When and how to ask for a prenuptial agreement is a delicate matter. Asking for a prenup can make it seem like you don’t trust your partner. Experts advise that you raise the subject as early as possible in a committed relationship and begin to draw out issues you’ll need to discuss.
Start by asking for a conversation, not by making demands (“I think we should talk about a prenup” instead of “prenup or breakup.”) Listen attentively and speak calmly. Be honest about why you think a prenup is necessary. If the conversation takes a turn toward conflict, agree to talk about it again another time.
If you’re concerned about asking your partner for a prenuptial agreement and about what the agreement should address, contact an experienced family law attorney for advice.