With everything we hear on the news, what we see on soap operas and with so much family drama, everyone has misconceptions about prenuptial agreements. Below are some of the myths as well as the truth of the matter.
For the Rich
Many people think that prenuptial agreements are only for rich people. This is not true. You might not be rich, but you want your marriage to be a success. Having honest discussions about finances before you get married will alleviate any surprises after you are married. No one wants to enforce a prenuptial agreement, so talking before the marriage about finances is necessary. You could become wealthy in the future. What if you write a song or a book? You need to consider how you would handle the division of the assets if there was a divorce.
Protect The Wealthy
It’s clearly a myth that prenuptial agreements are there to cover the spouse who has money and take the rights away from the spouse who does not have money. The fact of the matter is that a prenuptial agreement is designed to protect both partners. If a prenuptial agreement is unfair and one-sided, the court would not enforce it. By legal definition, the agreement must be equally fair for both parties. To be a valid prenuptial agreement, the signing of the agreement must be completely voluntary, and each person must fully disclose their debt and assets. With a prenuptial agreement, you know ahead of time how your assets and debts will be taken care of should there be a divorce.
They Cover Everything
It is a myth that a prenuptial agreement must cover every single issue that could possibly come up in a divorce. The fact is that you can include just a few issues or it can contain many issues. It’s up to you. Because the prenuptial agreement is a private contract, you can decide what you want in it and what you do not want in it. If all you are worried about is protecting your property, you can limit the agreement to cover just property. If all you want to cover in the prenuptial agreement is what happens at your death, in addition to your will, you can limit your prenuptial agreement to cover just that. If you want the agreement to cover everything, it can! This is all totally up to you.
It is a myth that if you don’t ever marry your partner, they won’t have any claim to your income or your property. The fact is that just by living together, you can risk your income or assets, regardless of marriage. If you ever had an oral communication with your partner about debts, assets, property and income, they can claim that conversation and assume it is part of a contract. When you live together without being married, you should have a cohabitation agreement between the two of you. It’s always better to decide who owns property and such now versus later.
The truth of the matter is that a carefully thought out prenuptial agreement can actually strengthen your relationship. It will force you to have some tough discussions, but they need to be had before you go into a committed marriage.
*Jacquelyn Torres writes about marriage and routinely provides advice for newlyweds. Her recent work is on her journey earning an online family counseling degree. <http://www.marriageandfamilycounselingdegrees.com/top/online/>