Wondering how to talk to your partner about prenuptial agreements? Here are 4 tips for a smooth conversation.
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Hold your horses!
No, my wonderful marriage is not in trouble – we are still in love (and I’m hoping that will be the case for a very, very long time to come) and we are still enjoying our lives together.
I was spending some “me-time” over the past weekend and flipping through some celebrity magazines.
Yes, I will admit that from time to time I do like resting my busy mind and simply reading some gossip magazines.
To be fair, I know many high ranking women business leaders who do the same, and I have yet to reach their status and level of accomplishment.
In any case, as I was flipping through those gossip magazines, I felt a little out of place, because I haven’t been following the latest and the hottest celeb gossip…
So I was surprised to find out that Paul McCartney has been married 3 times now?
I remembered back in 2002 (back when I was a wee child) that he married his second wife, Heather.
And I must have set aside the gossip magazines, because now, 18 years later, I’m shocked to hear that 1) they are divorced and 2) Paul is on wife No. 3.
So naturally, I read on to see that Paul, who was worth just under $1 billion (I think the magazine mentioned somewhere around $800 million) failed to sign a prenuptial agreement with wife No. 2, Heather.
That’s right, because the courts later made him hand over $50 million.
Granted, in the grand scheme of things, $50 million is not a large sum of money compared to his $800 million, but still, it’s about 6.25% of his total net worth.
Who in their right mind would give over $50 MILLION of their net worth to their ex-partner?
The answer is simple: no one.
So why did Paul end up giving about $50 million away?
That’s also a simple answer: Because he and wife No. 2 failed to sign a prenuptial agreement.
Assuming they had signed a prenuptial agreement, then Paul may have not had to pay anything to Heather or pay a very, very minute amount compared to what he did pay.
If they had signed a prenup it would have likely been determined by their attorneys, lifestyle pre and post-divorce, and the good nature of Paul’s heart.
(ie – did they have a wonderful relationship so that Paul wants to give his ex a small portion of his fortune).
Some Prenup Statistics:
- An American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey revealed that about 62% of lawyers stated they have seen an increase in clients seeking prenups.
- Specifically, more millennials have been wanting prenups.
- Only about 10% of the American population drafts a prenup before marriage.
- Prenups cost much less money than the battles for property and money that could ensue, post-divorce.
A Fair Warning to Prospective Spouses
You want to bring up the prenup talk subtly and smoothly when talking to your significant other… it’s probably not the best way to approach a beautiful, quiet evening and then blurt out “I want to have a prenup.”
You’ll have the subtlety of a hand grenade.
Consequently, if you are thinking about drafting a prenup for both yourself and your spouse, there is something to be said about handling this situation with care and caution.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase that even mentioning you’d be considering a prenup could result in a possible argument between yourself and your spouse because of the possible negative connotation the term prenup may have.
Many if not all Millennial couples I have worked with in the past have stated that they did not consider a prenup to be an option – they went into their marriage thinking it would last forever – knock on wood (and no, none of my Millennial couple friends have divorced yet).
It’s certainly a tricky topic to broach with your significant other – but it’s probably in your best interest if you feel like you need a prenup to protect your assets, your future assets, and/or your future income should you believe a possible divorce could happen.
In my opinion, if your significant other truly loves you and wants the best for you, then bringing up the dreaded prenup topic really shouldn’t be that difficult.
Even so, you might want to consider a couple of the following tips I would suggest employing before and during this possibly uncomfortable talk:
Tip #1: Communicate
In other words, if you’ve been thinking about wanting a prenup or even if you’ve just been considering the possible pros and cons of a prenup, honestly, I’d bring it up with your significant other pronto.
This is not a topic to be treaded lightly.
This is a serious conversation and input from your significant other is needed (assuming you don’t hold a gun to their head to sign the prenup).
Approach the conversation delicately, with finesse. Remember to ask your future spouse about their thoughts, and how they would feel about hiring an attorney to draft a prenup.
You might be surprised to see that some future spouses may not worry at all.
They may smile, say yes, and go along with your request – because they are just that confident in you and in the future marriage.
That’s rare, but it certainly happens.
Tip #2: Anticipate that this conversation could be a little awkward
You might be lucky and bringing up the prenup topic may be smooth sailing with your partner.
Your partner may simply agree to sign a prenup because they are confident your marriage will never end – and that’s perfectly OK.
However, I like heading into ambiguous conversations with a “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” type of attitude.
In other words, I would prepare myself for possible contention or my partner being shocked and even taken aback.
That’s normal too because often that is a conversation that a partner may not be expecting.
I would suggest to let your future partner vent. Let them share their doubts, their thoughts or opinions. Perhaps they are against prenups because of personal reasons.
Perhaps they are against prenups because of something that happened in their past that you simply don’t know about. You don’t know.
Hear your partner out.
It’s a two-way conversation so make sure you leave a safe space (that means NO attacking your partner should they not share your same opinion) for your partner.
It’s simple: be honest and be open with your partner.
If your relationship is meant to be, they will respect your viewpoint and they will want to communicate with you as well.
Recommended reading: 5 Financial turnoffs men find in women
Tip #3: Explain why a prenup may save you time and money down the road
It’s important to discuss possible negative outcomes of your future marriage (in other words, a potential divorce).
For example, you could weave into the conversation the possible scenario of an ugly divorce.
How would you decide which assets belong to whom? How would you decide which property belongs to whom?
The answer here (without a prenup) would lie in hiring an attorney.
And as most of us know, hiring an attorney generally tends to be very expensive.
So, a prenup will not only help you and your future spouse save time but the document will also likely save you both a lot of money should a divorce be looming ahead.
Hear me out: I completely understand that prospective spouses generally do not prefer to discuss a potential divorce scenario when they have not even been married. I get it.
But – I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
And by that, I mean preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.
Tip #4: Suggest to draft the prenup together
Assuming you and your future partner decide to go ahead with drafting a prenup agreement, it’s time to make sure your partner will have “sweat-equity” and “buy-in,” into the prenup.
What that means is, make sure your future partner will be invested when you draft the prenup for both of you.
And one of the best ways to ensure your future spouse is invested in the prenup is suggesting that you both draft the document together.
By suggesting that you both develop the prenup, your partner sees that you care about their views and opinions and that you want to include your partner into the conversation.
By co-creating a prenup, you may have more success in persuading your partner to go along with drafting a prenup.
The largest takeaway: include your partner in the conversation and in drafting the document.
Listen to your partner and give them the respect they deserve, assuming they share a different opinion with you about the topic.
Recommended reading: 3 Estate planning documents every millennial should have
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement essentially is an agreement between future spouses before they are married.
A prenup is an agreement that determines the scope of how a marriage is to be terminated in terms of splitting of assets and property, should the marriage end in divorce.
Specifically, a prenup will outline your assets, property, and income and define how the assets, property, and income should be split in the unfortunate circumstance of a divorce.
One of the most common methods prenups are utilized is to keep marital property separate.
In some states, once you are married, your income, assets, and property is considered community property, which means should you divorce, you will likely have to split everything 50 / 50 even if you contributed the majority of assets to the relationship.
If you did have a prenup to outline which property or asset (bank accounts, investment accounts, etc.) is yours and what belongs to your partner, then there could be a likelihood that you would not have to split your belongings 50 / 50 should the marriage end in a divorce.
Another thing that you could include in a prenup is waiving your or your future spouse’s right to alimony.
That’s right, you heard it: waiving your right to alimony.
Now, it’s not a guarantee that waiving your right or your spouse’s right to alimony will be upheld in a court of law – but depending on your state and depending on your divorce lawyer’s aptitude, you may not have to pay alimony based on the guidelines within your prenup.
What is alimony?
Alimony is an agreed-upon payment (typically established by the court) upon divorce from one spouse to another.
Alimony is a way to maintain the separated spouse’s standard of living.
Typically speaking, the higher earner spouse would be subject to alimony payments for the lower-income earning spouse.
In some cases, I’ve seen alimony payments range north of $20,000 per month.
Now that’s also because the higher-earning spouse brought in about $1,000,000 per year. That makes sense.
Like I said before, it might be a little awkward bringing up the topic of drafting a prenup for a marriage that has not yet even happened but it could help save you and your future partner time, money, and a lot of headaches down the road, should you both divorce.
Pro Tip: If you both decide to draft a prenup – make sure it is drafted AT LEAST 3 months before your marriage.
Otherwise, the prenup may be voided by a nifty attorney, because it could be that the prenup was signed under “duress” if signed within 3 months of the marriage.
You would be signing a prenup under force or compulsion because of the marriage date’s proximity.
I know that it’s an odd topic to broach with your significant other, but in my humble opinion, it’s certainly worth the conversation.
Just remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why more and more Millennials are seeking out prenups.
In the unfortunate event that your marriage should end in a divorce, you will very likely be thankful that you had drafted a prenup.
Bring up the topic when you both have time.
Listen to your partner’s feedback and suggestions. Respect your partner’s opinion.
And like I said before, if your partner agrees to draft a prenup, a good idea would be to co-create the document, let them have buy-in, and that way they are much more likely to go along with the idea.
And again – prenups might not be the best option for everyone. I didn’t draft a prenup with my husband. But we did have the conversation and are monitoring our assets intending to keep them separate.
That was the best course of action for us. Keep in mind that each situation is different. You just need to make sure you consider all options before moving forward.
Do you have a prenuptial agreement with your significant other?