Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. That sums up prenuptial agreements, also known as prenups. These legal agreements between two individuals preparing to marry are becoming more common. They are no longer only the purview of old-money elites. A recent Harris poll shows that 15% of those engaged or married had signed a prenup, up from only 3% in 2010. More than 40% of respondents support the use of prenups, and just over a third of unmarried people said they were likely to use one in the future.
With about half of all marriages ending in divorce, it can be wise to plan for possibilities even as you nurture your relationship to make it stronger. Think of a prenuptial agreement like wearing a seat belt. It doesn’t mean you plan to crash your car. You should still do everything possible to drive safely, but some things are out of your control. Your seat belt and your prenup protect you against things you hope never happen.
Here’s what you need to know about prenuptial agreements:
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between engaged partners. This contract outlines each spouse’s rights and responsibilities in the event of a divorce. While a prenup can cover just about anything you want, the most common subjects are premarital and marital assets, debts, alimony, and child support.
A prenup can also discuss rights and responsibilities in the event of one spouse’s death.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Prenup?
The legal fees for a prenuptial agreement are based on how complicated and time-consuming the agreement is. Typical costs range from about $1,500 to $7,500. Lawyers can sometimes draft simple agreements outlining premarital property and a few other basics for a flat fee. Some couples have more complicated matters like blended families, a family business, or detailed stipulations about children. In that case, it will take longer to research and write your agreement, which increases costs.
When is a Prenuptial Agreement Recommended?
Everyone can benefit from clear expectations and agreements about what happens if their marriage ends. That information can simplify a divorce and keep legal costs down. However, there are certain situations where a prenup becomes even more helpful:
- Children from Previous Relationships
Keeping some finances separate can make sense if either partner has children from previous relationships. Your contract with your future spouse can ensure some or all of your assets remain individual property, which can be saved for those children. Your prenup will clarify that you have assets separate from your future spouse’s, retaining your ability to leave those items to your children.
- Debt Inequality
Your prenuptial agreement could prevent you from being legally responsible for some debts your spouse incurs during the marriage. A prenup can also stipulate that existing debts from before the wedding not be paid with joint assets, ensuring that those liabilities don’t follow the other partner in the case of divorce.
- Stay-at-Home Parenting Plans
If one partner plans to be a stay-at-home parent, a prenup can provide vital protections. Your agreement can ensure the non-employed spouse is treated fairly if a divorce occurs. Your prenup can protect that spouse by acknowledging the loss of future earning potential from stepping out of the workforce. The disadvantages of lost career advancement have genuine costs if that partner eventually needs to provide for themselves. You can compensate for this loss by stipulating an income stream or property to the stay-at-home parent.
- Significant Wealth Disparities
If one of you is bringing much more wealth into the marriage, you may want a prenuptial agreement. Spousal support and property division in a divorce can be based partly on maintaining a particular lifestyle. If the relationship elevates the circumstances of one partner based on the finances of the other, that can create financial obligations in the event the marriage ends. A prenup can mitigate that by stipulating support amounts.
Some people feel that when there is wealth disparity, a prenup can ensure no one is motivated by money as a primary driver in choosing to marry. Limiting how much a partner will receive in a divorce can be reassuring to the partner with more wealth.
Will Having a Prenup Harm My Relationship?
There’s no evidence to support the idea that having a prenuptial agreement in place will damage your relationship. In fact, the process of hashing out your prenup can guide you to have essential conversations you may never have considered otherwise.
With money issues being one of the largest areas of marital disputes, discussing these details can strengthen your relationship and ensure you and your partner are compatible. Conversations about a prenuptial agreement can lead partners to communicate about spending and saving, financial goals, attitudes about debt, and other vital issues.
To finalize a prenup, you may also need to have conversations about child-rearing, career paths after you have children, plans for higher education for yourselves or your children, and other issues that can turn contentious if not sorted out beforehand.
We’ve Had Those Conversations. Now What?
Can We Just Use an Online Form?
If you’ve decided to create a prenuptial agreement, you want to make sure there are no unanswered questions about what would happen in the case of a divorce. A one-size-fits-all form downloaded from the internet may miss critical issues or information. There’s no point in doing and paying for a prenup that isn’t going to achieve its intended goals. Doing it wrong can be worse and create more ambiguity than not doing it at all. Creating a prenup yourself may also make it easier for your spouse to challenge the agreement’s validity in the future.
You want a prenup so you and your spouse are legally protected. It’s worth paying a bit more to ensure every issue is addressed, nothing is missed, and that protection holds. Your family attorney can guide you through these discussions to help you understand what issues should be covered by your prenuptial agreement.
We strongly encourage each partner to have their own legal representation. With a separate family law specialist representing each of you, you avoid conflicts of interest. This individual advice can also make difficult conversations easier. The lawyers will fine-tune the details and point out possible unfair considerations on your behalf.
Utah Knows Prenups
A family law office in Davis County will be familiar with Utah state laws. Working with them will ensure your prenuptial agreement complies with all relevant laws. You will also benefit from their years of experience with prenups and divorces. They can ask questions you may never have otherwise considered. Because they will be familiar with you, your partner, and your plans, they can tailor an agreement that covers the issues most important to each of you. An internet form can’t do that.
Prenuptial agreements can feel like planning for failure, but they aren’t. They clarify vital issues in your relationship and future marriage. Having these conversations now can strengthen your relationship and future marriage. And if things don’t turn out as you’d hoped, a divorce may be less contentious, costly, and lengthy if you’ve already agreed to some of the terms, thanks to a prenuptial agreement.