You’re getting married, so surely you should be able to trust your partner about money matters. Don’t only millionaires need prenuptial agreements? Those assumptions are wrong. Prenuptial agreements used to be associated with the very rich, but they are becoming much more common among ordinary, middle-class working people, and for good reasons.
Nobody can guarantee that any marriage will last until death parts the pair. It stands to reason that a prenuptial agreement will take a little of the potential bitterness out of divorce. The law doesn’t always say what most people think, and it varies between states, so the parties’ expectations of a fair settlement can be completely different. If it’s in black and white, the scope for argument is cut down.
With re-marriage being so common, there’s another reason to think about a prenuptial agreement in a second or subsequent marriage. People legitimately want to protect their assets for their own children, in case an ex-spouse forms a new partnership and the new partner or their children’s claims are put first. Things can get very complicated, so it’s much better to know where everyone stands.
Times Are Uncertain
This is an age of anxiety. The world seems to lurch from crisis to crisis. In a society where inequality is increasing, people feel more inclined to seek security. If one of the future couple stands to inherit a valuable property, they may want to ensure it stays in their family and passes down to their children, rather than being up for grabs in a divorce, leaving their children without protection in an unpredictable future.
The Need to Know
The prenuptial agreement doesn’t only come into play in the event of a split. It can be important in ensuring that each marriage partner understands the other’s point of view on shared finances during the marriage. Will they pool their resources and have a joint bank account? Who will look after any children, and at what point in time will that person be expected to go back to work, if ever? The partners may have unexamined assumptions about those things which should be clear before they commit.
There’s a natural reluctance to face up to these issues at the start of a marriage, when everyone assumes that that life will be rosy. But the partners may have different expectations, depending partly on how they have been raised, and the more they know about what the other one expects from marriage, the better.
Seeing an attorney and facing up to the questions that have to be answered in drawing up a prenuptial agreement should help couples to understand each other, and if that pushes them apart, rather than making them feel closer, it could be a sign that a permanent commitment isn’t a great idea.