Prenuptial agreements generally have a bad reputation. Because they are so misunderstood, people see them as unromantic, or as an inevitable marker that divorce is imminent.
There have been multiple TV shows and movie subplots that revolve around the idea of a prenup threatening a couple’s relationship or causing issues between them; most of those scenarios end with one of the parties dramatically ripping up the prenup and the couples declaring to make things work, no matter what.
However, despite what pop culture may have led you to believe, the truth is that a prenuptial agreement is a legal document that can actually help couples start marriage from a healthier place. Knowledge is power, and having the right information can empower you to make better choices for yourself, your relationship, and your future together. Here are 3 myths & 3 facts about these agreements you should know about!
Myth #1 About Prenuptial Agreements: “Prenups are a sign that the marriage is doomed to fail/that the partners don’t trust each other.”
This is undoubtedly the most popular myth surrounding prenuptial agreements, and the reason that many newly in-love, engaged couples don’t even think twice about considering a prenup (out of fear that they will somehow jeopardize their partner’s trust or their smooth sailing). But challenges in marriage will inevitably occur. The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever, and there are a number of outside factors quite apart from divorce that can put strain on a marriage - a family member’s passing, a lawsuit filed because of one partner’s career, bankruptcy, an issue arising in the family business, unexpected medical illnesses, etc.
A prenuptial agreement lays out how finances will be handled during the course of the marriage and also, yes, in the event of separation or divorce. But their primary function can be to get couples to talk about money and be prepared to address future financial challenges that arise, since money can be hard to talk about and since money is so significant to a marriage’s health and success.
Did you know that 48% of Americans who are married or living with a partner say they argue over money frequently? Data released from TD Ameritrade found that 41% of divorce Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers say that they ended their marriage primarily due to disagreements about money. According to a study of more than 4,500 couples published in the journal Family Relationships, fighting about money is the number 1 predictor of whether or not you’ll end up divorced.
Similar to premarital counseling, prenups can help you start the money conversations earlier on, with a professional to guide you, in a better way. Talking about money before you say “I do” can set up expectations for you both so there aren’t any unwelcome surprises and so you know exactly what to do when money disagreements or problems do arise!
Myth #2 About Prenuptial Agreements: “Prenups are only necessary for wealthy couples.”
With all this talk about money - and that being the primary function of a prenup, to safeguard and manage assets - it’s no wonder that the second most popular myth about prenups is that you only need to have one if you are both wealthy, or if one of you is. The truth is that any couple of any income level can benefit from the financial security and peace of mind that a prenup can offer. Prenups protect both spouses and their assets equitably…one could argue that it is even more important for couples of lower incomes to have a prenuptial agreement because they don’t have as much to lose in the event that a financial problem does arise in the future. Prenups are likely to prevent future court disputes and litigation, which can save time and money. Prenups are also relatively inexpensive legal documents compared to the alternative of divorce!
Myth #3 About Prenuptial Agreements: “Prenups only matter if you get divorced.”
We’ve already stated this, but this myth simply isn’t true! Yes, prenups are enormously helpful if a divorce does occur - they can make the divorce much less painful and drawn-out for everyone involved, and that benefit is not to be understated. However, prenups do much more than just set out the terms of a potential divorce. They also clarify each partner’s financial roles and responsibilities. For example, a prenup can establish that there will be a joint bank account for joint expenses and savings and individual account for both spouses; it can say which partner is responsible for which financial roles in a marriage, like paying utility bills and paying the mortgage, for example.
You and your partner get to choose exactly what your prenup will look and be like. For example, if your family has a business that you work for, and you only want it to deal with that aspect of your financial lives and protecting your family business’s asset (and/or transferring them to your partner in the event of your death),, a prenup can do that. If you both brought in extensive student debt to the marriage, a prenup can account for that. So there are many more reasons to have a prenup than to just avoid divorce!
Call New Leaf Family
New Leaf Family is a Colorado family law firm for every kind of family, including soon-to-be married couples! We want to see you grow through life’s changes, and we want you to have the best foundation for your lives together. We want you to be set up for success! Our team truly cares aobut how our work affects your marriage’s outcome, and to that end, we can create a personalized prenuptial agreement that fits your needs. We will help you understand all of the legal options available to you and decide what matters most to you, then guide you every step of the way to a prenup you and your partner feel confident in. If you’re engaged or getting married and want to learn more about the benefits of a prenup, contact one of our Colorado offices today to schedule a free consultation!