Prenuptial Agreements Are Romantic…Really!
Okay, I realize that a prenuptial agreement is not romantic in the traditional sense, but going into a marriage or civil union with the knowledge that you are committing to your significant other based 100% on love and that relationship alone – all material goods aside – is romance! Additionally, if you are a borderline obsessive compulsive planner like myself, I would find it very romantic that my future mate would be supportive of me keeping what was mine or what I accumulated during our marriage.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract you enter into before a marriage or civil union (or after –a postnuptial agreement) which states what will happen in the event of a divorce. It can cover everything from the obvious division of assets and spousal support, to issues like child custody arrangements, how debt is handled, family business succession, and conditions such as the forfeiture of assets if one spouse commits adultery. There are some basic requirements: It must be written, made with full disclosure (no hiding those off shore bank accounts from your significant other), it must be completely voluntary, it cannot encourage divorce, and it must be notarized. It is also suggested that both parties have their own attorney look at the document before signing.
Many people do not get a prenuptial agreement because they do not have many assets when they get married. However, what if you acquire assets during your marriage as the result of your hard work, should your spouse be entitled to take half of your hard earned assets? You can also write in agreements guaranteeing that you are entitled to certain assets, even if you were not working. For example, if you agreed with your spouse that you would not work, but would stay home and raise your children, you should be entitled to assets earned during the marriage. Also consider if you are set to inherit a family business, and wish to keep that business in the family, this can be accomplished through a prenuptial agreement. Finally, if confrontation is a concern, there are ways to ease the negative connotations associated with a prenuptial agreement: you can choose to limit the contract to a number of years (i.e. the agreement is only effective for the first 5 years of marriage), it is only enforceable in cases of infidelity (or any other condition you both choose), or you can use it to divide up debts as well as assets.
All in all, talking about a prenuptial agreement is not like taking a long walk on the beach to watch the sunset. However, it can be a means by which you show your significant other that you love them, and not his or her stuff.