Nobody wants to think about their marriage not working out. But, in a world where 40-50 percent of marriages end in divorce, you need to entertain the possibility that things might not end well.
It seems that lots of couples are starting to think along these lines. The majority of attorneys have reported noticing an increase in the number of couples who are seeking prenuptial agreements, especially among millennials.
If you’re getting ready to tie the knot, it’s important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of a prenuptial agreement.
Read on to learn all the prenup agreement pros and cons so you can make the best decision for yourself and your partner.
What is a Prenup?
First things first, let’s clarify what a prenuptial agreement is.
A prenup is a legally binding contract that two people sign before they get married. In the agreement, the couple addresses the following issues:
- The property they each bring to the marriage
- The property they may acquire during the marriage
- The property rights of each party should the marriage end in divorce
It’s not exactly romantic, but many couples believe that these are important issues to address before getting married.
Prenup Agreement Pros and Cons
As with anything, there are both benefits and drawbacks to getting a prenup agreement before you get married. Some of the pros and cons are explained below.
There are many reasons why couples choose to sign a prenuptial agreement. Some of the benefits that come from signing one include:
- Protecting the inheritance rights of your children or grandchildren from a previous marriage
- Protecting a business that you own (or partially own) so it’s not subject to your partner’s control should you get divorced
- Protecting you from assuming your partner’s debts should they owe significantly more money than you
- Ensuring that you will be compensated for your sacrifice should you choose to give up a lucrative career after you’re married
- Limiting the amount of spousal support you’ll have to pay should you get divorced
- Protecting your financial interests if you have substantial wealth and are entering into a second or subsequent marriage
If any of these benefits sound appealing to you or your partner, you may want to consider signing a prenuptial agreement.
At the same time, there are drawbacks to a prenuptial agreement, and this document is definitely not all-encompassing. Before you sign a prenuptial agreement, be sure to take the following cons into account:
- You may have to forfeit your right to inherit your spouse’s estate when they die
- You may not be entitled to a share of an increase in a business’s value, even if you contribute to the business’s growth
- Your partner may interpret your desire to sign a prenuptial agreement as a sign of distrust — this can start your marriage off on bad terms
- It’s hard to predict future problems with your marriage and compromises you make when signing the prenup could become problematic later on
- The low- or non-wage-earning partner may not be able to sustain their lifestyle should the marriage end in divorce
- One spouse may agree to terms that are not in their best interest because they don’t believe the prenuptial agreement will ever need to be called upon
- The prenuptial agreement may prove to be unnecessary, especially since some states don’t allow issues like child support to be resolved through them
- Some state laws cover asset and property distribution without the need for a prenup
- At the time when the couple signs the agreement, it may be too early, especially if they don’t yet own property or have a lot of assets
As you can see, there are certainly drawbacks to a prenuptial agreement, especially if one partner makes significantly less money than the other or does not own any property of their own.
Who Should Get a Prenup?
It’s true that ay couple can potentially benefit from a prenup. But, based on the pros and cons outlined above, certain couples may see more benefits than drawbacks from signing a prenup before they get married.
The answers to the following questions can help couples determine whether or not a prenup might be a good idea for them:
- Do you own real estate?
- Do you have more than $50,000 in assets?
- Is your annual income greater than $100,000 per year?
- Do you own any part of a business?
- Do you have more than a year’s worth of retirement benefits?
- Do you or your partner plan to go to school while the other works?
- Do you have employment benefits like profit sharing or stock options?
- Does your estate name other beneficiaries or heirs besides your partner?
If you or your partner can answer yes to one or more of these questions, a prenup is probably right for you.
What About a Postnup?
If you’re still not sure what to do, remember that a postnuptial agreement (also known as a postnup) might also be an option for you and your partner.
A postnup is an agreement that you sign after your marriage that covers many of the same issues addressed in a prenup. Most couples who sign a postnup choose to do so after they’ve been married for a little while and know more about how they want to manage their household.
If one partner is on the fence about a prenup, a postnup might be a good compromise.
Do You Need a Prenup?
Now that you know some of the most important prenup agreement pros and cons, do you think a prenup is right for you and your partner?
If so, you’ll need to hire a family attorney to help draw up your prenup agreement. Don’t know where to find the right attorney?
Use our online directory today to find a great attorney near you.
Feel free to check out our blog as well for more legal advice and tips on choosing the best attorney for your needs.