A prenuptial agreement is designed to protect a person’s financial and personal interests so that when they walk out of a marriage they are as secure as they were when they walked into the marriage. The drawback to a prenuptial agreement in the modern world is the idea that you are planning for your divorce even in the midst of your wedding planning.
The pros to a prenuptial agreement include financial security, emotional security and a certainty to what is going to happen. For the wealthy, it means assurance that the person is marrying you for you and not for your money. For people from broken homes, it may mean a layer of extra security insulating them from their own fears. It may also serve as a way to protect yourself from life, because people do change and grow and while you may be committed to making your marriage work, your spouse may not.
As often demonstrated by celebrity marriages, marriage shouldn’t be a contract with caveats and small print. You shouldn’t be planning how to extract yourself before you’ve even committed. In fact, a prenuptial agreement suggests you are prepared for that day when you go your separate ways, so you’re less likely to put weight on your vows. Why worry about staying committed and involved if you have an easy way out?
The only front where a prenuptial agreement might be advisable is the commitment agreement where producing children is involved. Let me tell you a brief story about a couple that I know. They are a power couple in the sense that they both make about $80,000 a year each. They live well and they enjoy their money. They share many property interests and they like expensive things. They lived together for about four years before they got married and they signed a prenuptial agreement with regard to their various assets.
Yet their prenuptial agreement contains one interesting piece to it. It is only in effect if they have children. There are specific amendments for each possible child. Their assets are in effect put into trust for their potential children in the event that something happens to their marriage. When I asked my girlfriend about why the specifics she said because both of them came from divorced homes where dad left, failed to pay child support and moms struggled to bring their kids up and working three times as hard as either felt their mothers ever should have needed to. So their prenuptial agreement is an effort to protect their kids – or future children – from mistakes or decisions that they make as a married couple.
That, I have to say, is pretty admirable. We don’t have a prenuptial agreement and we didn’t think one was necessary. I fall on that side of the fence that says that kind of agreement is planning for a divorce. I don’t want a divorce. I don’t want to plan for the fallout of one. That means if my financial assets are more important to me than anything else, well – then I have that much more impetus for working on my marriage.
What do you think about prenuptial agreements?