Valentine’s Day is a big day for marriage proposals. If you’re popping the question to someone this year, or if you were the one who said “yes,” the first thing on your mind may not be a prenuptial agreement. However, you should get around to thinking about that sooner rather than later.
No one wants to consider the possibility that their marriage will end. However, just as you have insurance policies for unplanned and unwanted calamities, by having a solid prenup in place, you help protect your assets and minimize conflict if you do divorce.
Even though people are generally waiting longer to get married, about 50% of people get a divorce from their first spouse. The chances of divorce go up with each successive marriage. Yet one attorney who represents a large number of physicians in his practice says that many of his clients don’t have prenups, in part because they “didn’t have anything to protect” when they got married.
However, everyone has something to protect. Further, prenups are about more than stipulating how assets and liabilities will be split up. You can decide spousal support terms, if you choose. If one spouse is going to take a break from their career to be a full-time parent, that’s important. Maybe one spouse is going to support the other while they pursue a graduate degree. That spouse could end up earning considerably more thanks to a spouse who supported the couple during this time.
Another advantage of getting a prenup is that it requires both parties to disclose their financial situation — something they may not otherwise do. It’s good to know if your significant other has tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. That could give you some idea of their ability to stay on a budget.
Prenups are never something that should be saved until the last minute or rushed through. If a divorcing spouse can convince a judge that they were pressured to sign the document days before the wedding and were never given the chance to have their own attorney review it, the whole thing (or at least part of it) could be invalidated.
When you’re ready to draw up your prenup, have an experienced family law attorney involved in the process to make sure that it’s a solid document that will protect you if you ever need it.