How (and Why) to Bring-up a Pre-nup
How to Discuss Prenuptial Agreements
If the idea of bringing up a prenup seems uncomfortable…you are not alone. Many people carry preconceived notions (and baggage) about prenups (prenuptial agreements also known as premarital agreements). However, more and more couples are using the prenup process to stimulate important conversations about how they define and safeguard their marital union (lifestyle, roles, financial responsibility).While prenups have received a lot of public and media attention lately, many people still don’t understand their value. Not convinced yet? Read on.
Bringing up the subject of a prenuptial agreement can be a great way to learn more about your expectations, dreams and hopes. By starting down this communication path now, you are well on your way to creating a mutually fulfilling partnership. Whether you have high assets or are just starting out, have children or don’t, there are dozens of reasons a prenup is beneficial to you and your spouse. Here are just a few:
- To determine how you and your spouse define equality in your partnership
- To establish the value of non-monetary contributions to a marriage, such as being a stay at home spouse and career sacrifices
- To cover your pre-marriage nest egg (such as your home, pension plan, stock portfolio, or property with emotional value)
- To protect gifts and inheritances you receive
- To ensure that in the event of death or divorce, you will avoid difficult disputes over property (such as family businesses, stock options, professional degrees, licenses and practices, pension plans, and copyrights)
- To ensure that children from a prior marriage receive their intended inheritance
- To allocate any pre-marriage ownership/partnership in a business
- To protect yourself from your partners’ pre-marriage debt, ie credit card debt or prior loans
Sliding a prenup across the dinner table a week before the wedding is not the appropriate time to bring up this important conversation! Conversations about concerns, expectations, and responsibilities are best had early in the relationship. As your relationship gets more serious, your conversations should get more detailed and specific.
Where do you normally discuss topics important to your partnership, such as life goals, finances or family? Find or create a calm, neutral spot where you will both feel open, at ease and unpressured. Whether it’s your living room sofa, an afternoon walk or a quiet dinner, you’ll want to create an environment where both of you are most comfortable- mentally and physically.
You’ve gone through the why, when, and where, now here’s the “how”. Even when couples understand the reasons for these marriage contracts, many aren’t sure just how to initiate the discussion. Take a look at these suggestions to get you started on the “HOW”.
- Openly, honestly, directly
- State your specific concerns
- Present an idea to be implemented by the two of you over time
- Invite discussion about any underlying issues that arise
- Work out your issues collaboratively
“I believe that marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition, and I’m concerned about giving up my job to become a full-time stay at home spouse. Can we establish a principle of 50-50 sharing at the outset?”
“Let’s talk about our future, what we both want, our lifestyles, our present and future finances. I want to make sure all our money issues are addressed and resolved in an agreement. Then we won’t have them hanging over us when we get married.”
“One thing I have to consider before I get married is my parents’ business. I need to be confident that the business will remain in the family in the event the unthinkable occurs.”
Need more help bringing the topic of a prenup up and having the conversation? We’ve designed a guide called The Commitment Conversation that will put you on the right path. This guide will help anyone who is looking to effectively build a strong and honest long-term relationship.
- Springing a prenup upon your intended
- Presenting the idea of a prenup as a fait accompli
- Suggesting a prenup at the last moment
- Being overbearing or heavy handed
REMEMBER: Don’t let a prenup fall to the bottom of your “To Do” list. The discussions you have revolving around the prenup are conversations you WILL have once you are married. Getting to know your partner’s position on these important aspects early can help head-off more difficult discussions during the marriage. If you can’t talk about touchy issues, it doesn’t bode well for the marriage.
The foregoing is a brief outline of the chapter on “Broaching the ‘P’ Word” in PRENUPS FOR LOVERS by Arlene G. Dubin (Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 2001). The chapter details when, where and how to bring up the topic, suggests specific opening lines, and discusses how to respond if the “P” word is popped to you. Other chapters offer sample clauses, real-life profiles, celebrity tidbits and checklists to make sure that there will be no court after the courtship. Special sections are devoted to women, young and mature lovers, cohabitants and married couples.
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