The Knot Prenuptial Agreements: Should You Get a Prenup?
October 25, 2015
LAWYER: Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich, Esq. — When you’re planning your wedding, it’s probably easy (and fun!) to talk about cakes, favors and food with your partner. Talking about prenups? Not so easy. But, getting married means you’re starting your life together, and talkingabout getting one forces you both to face your finances and start planning for the future. While it might not be the most cheerful part of your wedding planning, it will give you peace of mind in the long run.
Why You Should Think About Getting a Prenup
The good news is that prenuptial agreements don’t have the stigma that they once did. Couples today are getting married later in life and are much more likely to have accrued significant assets by the time they wed. “Typically those wanting prenups have been married before and wish to protect the interests of his or her children from an earlier marriage; or one of the parties owns a business or is involved in a family business and does not wish the future spouse to receive a portion of the business in the event of a divorce,” says Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich, chair of the Family Law Department of Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich LLC.
What Goes Into The Prenup
When it comes to what to include, Marzano-Lesnevich says it can be anything and everything (except custody of children). “Typically, prenups include support issues (amount of support, length of time for support, commencement of support, increases of support dependent upon length of marriage); what income will be considered part of the marital estate; what income will be considered separate property; how maintenance payments, during the marriage, of the common living quarters will be divided, etc.; and the division of assets.”
She recommends you both hire your own attorneys to negotiate with each other and not let the process interfere with your relationship. And make sure you’re totally honest with each other about your financial information and assets.
How to Bring It Up
“It may seem like the most difficult thing in the world to talk about a prenuptial agreement, but if you think about it, if you’re about to spend the rest of your life with someone, you should be able to talk about anything that’s on your mind,” says Scott Haltzman, M.D., distinguished fellow with the American Psychiatric Assocation and author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women and The Secrets of Happily Married Men.
And we admit that while bringing up the idea that you could get a divorce defies the traditional image of the starry-eyed bride, you are bringing it up for a specific reason.
“The primary pro is that in the unfortunate event of a divorce you can eliminate unnecessary litigation. You have defined what will happen in your prenup,” says Marzano-Lesnevich. And she advises that while your having the prenup conversation you should “be open with your future spouse as to the reasons you wish a prenup and what economic expectations you have for the marriage.”
If the discussion gets heated and you disagree, it’s okay to take a break, says Haltzman. “This discussion doesn’t have to happen all at once. Addressing the issue, agreeing to take some time away, and coming back to discuss it later are all healthy ways of resolving it.” And remember, once the discussion is behind you, you can get right back to the cake tastings!