How to Discuss a Prenuptial Agreement
Whether you are entering into your first marriage, or are lucky enough to have found love again, there are a variety of reasons you might want to consider discussing and entering into a Prenuptial Agreement, Premarital Agreement, or “Prenup” with your fiancé. However, you may be afraid to approach the subject out of fear that your loved one will become upset, offended, or embarrassed.
Thanks to the conflicts we see dramatized in the media and on television, there is a perceived social stigma attached to discussing or entering into Prenuptial Agreements. Of course, what you see on television is often far from reality and if handled properly, there is no reason for anyone to become upset or ashamed about discussing or entering into a Prenuptial Agreement.
If you are concerned about protecting your assets, including property and business interests, making arrangements for children from a prior marriage, limiting or eliminating Alimony, or believe you and your fiancé would otherwise benefit from the increased certainty of entering into a Prenuptial Agreement, the following tips might help you approach the subject of a Prenuptial Agreement more thoughtfully, cooperatively, and without conflict.
1. Keep calm.
How and where you approach your spouse-to-be are just as important as what you say. By remaining calm and not making demands, and instead focusing on the benefits and certainty that the Prenuptial Agreement can provide, you can keep the discussion from turning unnecessarily emotional.
2. Keep it private.
There is no reason everyone needs to know that you are discussing a Prenup. When you initially approach your fiancé about a prenuptial agreement it should be done privately – free from attorneys, meddling parents, and judgmental friends. While you should always work with a licensed attorney in planning for and drafting the appropriate prenuptial agreement, initially isolating the situation from people and places which could cause unneeded escalation, can help you keep the peace.
3. Listen to your fiancé’s concerns.
If you suspect that your fiancé will react negatively to discussing the benefits or necessity of a Prenuptial Agreement, go into the conversation prepared to ask questions to help understand why your fiancé might feel this way. While some concerns may require significant negotiation to settle, others can be alleviated with ease, either by custom drafting provisions in your Prenuptial Agreement, or by making arrangements elsewhere (including insurance and estate planning). Listening to your partner and addressing his or her concerns will make it much more likely he or she will agree to a Prenup without unnecessary argument or anger. It is equally important to work with a Prenuptial Agreement Attorney who is skilled in listening and negotiations, to make sure that your goals are accomplished without creating unnecessary conflict.
4. Understand that Prenups aren’t just about protecting existing wealth.
Prenuptial Agreements can be customized to meet a client’s goals, including protecting future income, settling business interests, apportioning assets or debts, addressing spousal support or alimony, accounting for inheritances and other estate planning concerns, and more. By drafting the Prenup to protect both parties’ interests, it becomes less about one party being “greedy” and more about the couple setting out their respective rights and responsibilities. And because the parties understand and agree on the issues of concern, it is more likely they can avoid an expensive or emotionally damaging divorce.
5. Appreciate that you are creating a partnership.
A marriage is not just a coming together of two hearts – it is also a legal partnership which carries specific obligations to each other, and to your prospective children. Discussions about a Prenup should be made with the understanding that the agreement has nothing to do with trust, or a lack thereof, but is instead about clarity and the terms of the partnership. Oftentimes, if the parties do not enter into a prenuptial agreement, they are without complete knowledge of their marital obligations and legal responsibilities. In fact, studies suggest that 43% of married couples cannot correctly state their partner’s salary. Even more troubling, 1 in 3 adults in a combined financial relationship admits to financially deceiving their partner.
6. Start the dialogue early.
Any good attorney will tell you that a Prenuptial Agreement should be entered into well in advance of the marriage. However, what you may not consider, is the amount of time it may take your fiancé to think about and assess his or her needs, assets, liabilities, and concerns related to the Prenup. This process should be an open dialogue between you, your fiancé, and your attorneys, to ensure that everyone understands and agrees with the contract, free from pressure and time constraints. Just as you would plan a wedding, religious ceremony, and other important events in your life, it is often helpful – even healthy – to plan for the changes you will start to experience as a new couple.
7. Consult with a Prenuptial Agreement Attorney.
Because each circumstance and the needs of each party are unique, it is helpful to consult with a Prenuptial Agreement Attorney before you decide to approach your fiancé about a Prenup. An experienced Prenuptial Agreement Attorney can help you understand and assess your potential exposure, rights and responsibilities, and not only craft a custom agreement to suit your needs, but also help you figure out the best way to approach your soon-to-be spouse.
Remember – a Prenuptial Agreement is a powerful marriage planning tool and nothing to fear or be ashamed of. If you follow these tips and work with an experienced Prenuptial Agreement Attorney, you can set the right tone for a peaceful and stable marriage.
About the Author: Cary Levinson, Partner Attorney at Levinson & Capuano, LLC, is experienced in drafting custom prenuptial agreements to suit his client’s needs. Call (954)703-2110 or email Info@BrowardLegal.com today for more information.
This is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied on to make any legal or other major decisions. If you have specific questions or inquiries regarding any of this information, you should consult with an attorney licensed in your state.