As a woman, people are usually surprised at my view on prenuptial agreements. The most common feedback I hear is “he’s already anticipating that we won’t be together forever,” or “she clearly DOESN’T love me if she wants me to sign a prenup.” Well, darling that is an unrealistic way of thinking about your relationship and you should read my blog post “Y’all Used to Love: A Guide to Healthy Uncoupling” for my view on unrealistic expectations in relationships.
The reality is that prenuptial agreements are a necessity in any marriage, just like car insurance is a necessity on any vehicle, and health insurance is a necessity for every family in this country (please note I just refused my urge to rant about universal healthcare in this country. Be proud). And while we don’t plan to get in a car accident, or get sick, we do maintain those insurance policies just in case. We should think about prenups the same way. You don’t necessarily go into a marriage with the intent to be divorced, but would it be wise to plan for it if it happens? Absolutely.
Below I’ve listed 5 things you should include in a prenuptial agreement for both Women and Men. Let’s Talk About It…
5 Things a Woman Should Ask for in a Prenuptial Agreement:
1. Premarital Property
What is premarital property? Premarital property is any property that is purchased before the marriage. If a home is purchased before marriage, even if you live in it with your spouse, it will remain premarital property as long as certain events do not occur that may turn the home into a marital asset. Retirement accounts are also considered premarital property and can be protected with a prenuptial agreement.
During a relationship, many gifts are exchanged between partners. Your gifts can be protected from equitable distribution by classifying all gifts as belonging to the recipient in a prenuptial agreement. If not, the gift will be appraised at the time of divorce and may be distributed between the parties.
Alimony, also known as “spousal support” compensates a spouse for their contribution to the marriage. Very often, women take time off from work to raise children or give up their careers entirely to become a homemaker. After a certain number of years out of the workforce a woman’s earning potential significantly decreases, and alimony allows her a set amount of income each month that she can depend on to maintain a lifestyle similar to what she enjoyed during her marriage.
4. Infidelity Clause
Most states have no-fault grounds for divorce (including Georgia) and while a judge can consider cheating in a divorce when dividing assets, you are not guaranteed to be compensated for your trauma through that process. An infidelity clause would be helpful in this circumstance and a prenuptial agreement can help outline what penalties a spouse would pay if cheating occurs. (Check your state law as not all states recognize lifestyle clauses.)
If you are ever remarried, you would want to ensure that your children from your previous marriage retain their interests and that their property rights are protected. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that your children are provided for according to your wishes.
5 Things a Man Should Ask for in a Prenuptial Agreement:
1. Debt Liability
If your partner has a significant amount of debt, you may assume some of that debt during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement can help limit your liability should the marriage end, and keep creditors from going after the marital property when attempting to collect a debt.
2. Business Ownership
If you are an entrepreneur or retain a controlling interest in a business, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that in the event that you are going through a divorce your spouse cannot gain a controlling interest in that business, protecting your interests and the interests of other shareholders.
Finances are one of the main reasons couples end up getting divorced. (Well this isn’t entirely true in that most of the time couples are stressed due to an issue with finances, and that stress coupled with the lack of a healthy communication style within their marriage leads to divorce, but I digress.) A prenuptial agreement can help map out healthy spending and saving strategies. You can lay out your future financial plans, including how much money is placed in separate and joint accounts, and investment and retirement strategies.
As mentioned earlier, alimony compensates a spouse for their contribution to the marriage and aims at allowing a spouse to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed during their marriage after divorce. You can include a provision in your prenuptial agreement that predetermines the amount of alimony a spouse will receive. However, the agreement cannot be written in a way that leaves either spouse destitute, or that makes the alimony award punitive in nature.
In the era of social media “exposing” someone happens all too often. A confidentiality clause in a prenuptial agreement can ensure that both parties will keep their personal lives private and no dirty laundry is aired. The agreement can be written to state that without the written consent of the other party no personal information shall be disseminated or published to a third party and kept out of the public eye.
All in all, prenuptial agreements can offer couples a great opportunity to be open and honest with one another about their expectations and concerns before tying the knot. Have the tough conversation and provide full disclosure if you decide to proceed with getting a prenup. And as always both parties should make sure they consult with an attorney about their rights before signing.