Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Okay, so you popped the big question, and he or she said yes! Whew, what a relief! Now there’s so much to do, so many plans to make: the guest list, the invitations, the reception, the band, the cake, the honeymoon… the prenup?

While it is hardly the most glamorous aspect of planning a wedding and a life together, many couples should at least discuss it. Why? A prenuptial agreement can protect you from financial loss in case your relationship breaks down—no small concern when you consider that half of all marriages end in divorce.

Is a prenuptial agreement a good idea for you and your intended spouse? Probably, if any of the following scenarios apply:

  • Either of you has children from a previous marriage
  • You own a business or are involved in a family-run company
  • Either of you has significant assets that you want to keep separate
  • One of you is concerned about the other party’s debt
  • You are giving up a lucrative career to get married

If you think a prenuptial agreement makes sense in your situation, the next question is when the topic should be broached and documents prepared. The short answer is this—the sooner the better.

Even though it may be a sound financial decision, asking for a prenup is obviously a delicate situation. The person who brings up the subject may be seen as lacking trust in his or her mate. Requesting a prenuptial agreement well in advance should give you and your intended spouse the time to discuss the subject at length and come to an understanding. This is infinitely more preferable than, say, approaching your beloved a few days before the wedding and saying something like “Oh, by the way darling, my lawyer says I need you to sign this.” In addition to the shock involved in such a last-second approach, there are sound legal reasons for broaching the subject as soon as possible. Chief among them is that it avoids the appearance of coercion, which renders some agreements null and void.

A prenuptial agreement should be signed, at the very latest, one month before the wedding, and before any invitations are sent out. Also, each party should have his or her own attorney involved in the design and review of the prenuptial agreement.

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