by Amanda Singer
Prenuptial agreements (prenups) don’t scream romance, and I know it is probably the LAST thing that you want to think about when you’re planning a wedding, but hear me out. I want you to think about this scenario: you are married for 15 years, and you start to drift apart, maybe someone has an affair, and then, all of the sudden you’re looking at divorce. Maybe one of you hasn’t worked for the last ten years, and you have three kids to think about.
Nobody gets married planning to get divorced, but the stark reality of it is that while the legal divorce rate is at a 40-year low, typical first marriages and cohabitation relationships still have about a 50% chance of lasting. Now, statistics vary depending on the age at which you get married, and even more on whether it’s your first marriage or your second, or third, but 50/50 chances of getting divorced are still not small. If someone told you that you had a 50% chance of getting into an accident that could potentially cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, would you make sure to get insurance? I sure would.
Prenups are like an Insurance Plan
Look at a prenup like insurance. Just like nobody plans on getting divorced, nobody plans on getting into an accident and having high medical bills, yet we still have insurance, in case we do. I don’t think that my house will burn down, but you can bet I’ve got homeowners insurance in case it does happen. A prenup is there just in case the marriage doesn’t work and you end up needing to get divorced. I tell my clients that we’re developing this document, and then you’re going to put it away and plan to never look at it again. But, if you do need it, the prenup will provide the details as to how you want to handle things in the unlikely case that you two don’t agree and end up in a lengthy court battle. Now, I often hear from people. “Well, we wouldn’t be like that if we got divorced,” but the truth of the matter is that you just don’t really know. While you can say that you would never take your spouse to court and that you would be reasonable, you really don’t know how you’d feel in that situation, especially if something like infidelity was involved. Would you still want to be nice and work with your partner, or would you be focused more on getting back at them?
Prenups Precede Happy Marriages
Furthermore, by entering into a prenup, you actually decrease your likelihood of getting divorced in the first place. Before you even get married, you’re establishing a framework for problem-solving that will form a solid and secure basis for your future marriage. Working on a prenup with your future spouse forces you to communicate about things that you may not have known about the other person. As I discussed in a previous blog, talking about money is tough, but once you open the door, it’s far easier to continue this dialogue while married.
But, if I ask for a Prenup, will my Future Spouse think I don’t Trust him/her?
You might be thinking at this point that a prenup sounds like a good idea, but you worry that your future spouse will think that you’re saying you don’t trust him/her. The reality is that a prenup says that you trust the other person so much that you can share even your most intimate secrets. It is a well-known fact that people are very private about money, and many would sooner talk about their sex lives. A prenup allows you both to be open and candid about your financial situation. We understand that broaching the topic can be difficult, Arlene G. Dubin, in her book, Prenups for Lovers provides some great advice on how to broach the topic. We are also happy to discuss this with you and help you come up with the right way to talk with your future spouse.
Amanda D. Singer, Esq., MDR, CDFA is a professional family mediator and co-owner of San Diego Family Mediation Center. She is also a licensed attorney and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. She works to help families improve communication, solve problems and reach agreements while staying out of court. Amanda is on the board of Academy of Professional Family Mediators and co-chaired this year’s conference. San Diego Family Mediation Center works with families dealing with various family issues, including divorce mediation, premarital mediation, blended families and parenting plans.