You’ve likely heard that 50% of married people in the U.S. get divorced. You might also think, “That won’t happen to us.” Or maybe the thought of a prenup sends you into a spiral. It’s not fun to think you could get divorced, after all. Couples don’t marry each other with the intention of divorce, but it happens. But don’t look at a prenup as doom and gloom – it’s just a security measure. If you don’t have a prenup, you’re at risk for financial troubles such as debt. For added peace of mind, here’s what we, as a nonprofit credit counseling agency, recommend you consider when preparing a prenup.
Why is a Prenup Important?
Divorce is already fraught with difficulties such as tension, disruption of routine, and custody agreements. A prenup makes a divorce less contentious by outlining financial expectations. This helps prevent any surprises or drawn-out arguments over assets in the event of divorce. Nobody wants more drama.
A prenup is admittedly one of the heaviest conversations you’ll have with your soon-to-be spouse, especially if he or she is a die-hard romantic. They might understandably get upset or offended. If you think your partner might react with fear or worry, there’s a way to have this conversation to ease their nerves. They need to know you’re coming in from a pragmatic perspective, not a cold or callous one. With a good talk, you’ll both understand each other’s perspectives and hopefully come to agreeable terms. If you’ve been able to come this far together, the prenup talk might not be as bad as you think.
Another benefit is you’ll learn things about each other’s financial health, such as your credit scores and spending patterns. Figuring out how to approach financial decisions together is part of keeping your relationship solid. There are good times in marriage, but there will also be stressful ones. The ability to have hard conversations is part of long-term success. Despite a prenup’s association with divorce, it actually has the potential power to strengthen your relationship. Preparing a prenup can help both of you develop your communication and compromise skills. These will come in handy for overcoming stressful situations as a couple. Very essential for a lasting marriage!
What’s Included in a Prenup?
Typical categories include family property, estate plans, and alimony. You or your significant other might other assets to consider too. Additionally, if you have children from a previous marriage, a prenup protects the assets you want them to have.
A prenup isn’t just about protecting assets. It also protects you from debt liability from debt that isn’t yours. It’s important that a prenup specifies whose debt is whose. For example, student debt is one of the main reasons why more millennials are signing prenups. Having a comprehensive discussion about how you would handle it is crucial. It’s easier to reach an agreement when you’re both feeling happy rather than contentious. You can specify in your prenup that any student loan borrowed will remain either your or their debt, regardless if it was done before or after the marriage.
If you and your partner decide to combine your federal student loans – which becomes a “joint consolidation” loan – you can still discuss the approach you would take in the event of divorce. Ideas include paying the debt off in full and trying to refinance the debt into new loans, one in each of your names. Creating solutions now prevents a war later. It’s hard to imagine a couple turning on each other, but in the throes of divorce, they might use the debt as a weapon against each other. For example, one spouse stops making payments on the debt, knowing that the other will still have to make payments. If not, both of their credit gets ruined when they default on the debt. Besides divorce’s emotional turmoil, the financial fallout would cut deep for both of you.
Outlining every category in a prenup is tedious, but crucial. By clarifying who keeps what, a prenup prevents a divorce from getting overly expensive. Consider the plight of divorcing couples who didn’t prepare a prenup. They’ll argue more about who gets to keep what, which leads to more conversations with their lawyers – who, don’t forget, charge by the hour.
Preparing a Prenup
It’s better to prepare your prenup sooner than later. Waiting until the last minute can create thorny legal issues in the event of divorce. Keep in mind too that drafting a prenup will take at least a few weeks. Maybe longer depending on how many assets or liabilities there are. It’s recommended that you and your fiancé make a prenup at least six months before your wedding date.
To get started with preparing a prenup, both of you should each get your own lawyer to help. It’s best to find one who specializes in divorce or family law. Prepare to budget accordingly too, as a prenup’s price can be hefty. A DIY approach might be tempting, but those often don’t hold up in court. Hiring a lawyer to help plan out your prenup ensures you’re meeting all the legal requirements. After you and your partner are done creating the prenup, review it to make sure you agree with and understand everything, including the legal jargon.
We wish all engaged couples out there a happy marriage. Preparing a prenup doesn’t mean you’ll get divorced, and we hope you’ll grow old together without having to use it. But if you do end up getting divorced, you’ll be glad to have it. Our goal is to help everyone have better financial peace of mind. Best wishes on this wonderful journey together.
If you’re struggling with debt, call 800-769-3571 to speak with one of our credit counselors today!