How to Talk About Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is often a difficult subject to talk about when planning a wedding. It is difficult to talk about money, and for many people, signing a contract is not the way they envisioned starting their lives together.

A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a contract you and your partner sign before getting married, which outlines who would receive what in the event of a divorce. These contracts are becoming increasingly more common, as many couples find them a beneficial and practical step for their partnerships.

However, because the contract is only necessary in the event that the marriage ends, discussing it will always be hard. It is important to expect a difficult conversation so you can adequately prepare, particularly if you are the one bringing up the topic first. Honesty will help your partner to understand why you want the agreement, but it is crucial to be sensitive. Even if you initiated the idea, you should also be willing to include your partner in the creation of the contract, making sure he or she agrees to all the terms.

Bringing Up the Subject

If you have not yet discussed the subject of a prenuptial agreement, you want to bring the subject up carefully. You need to be prepared for an emotional response from your partner. You may also become emotional or defensive in the ensuing discussion, and you should be aware of this from the beginning. Try following these guidelines:

  • Do have the discussion early on, possibly before getting engaged.
  • Do not begin the conversation by stating that you want a prenup.
  • Do be open and honest about wanting a prenuptial agreement.
  • Do not bring up the topic while arguing with your partner, particularly about finances.
  • Do make sure you have the time and space to discuss the topic when you first bring it up.
  • Do not force your partner to talk about it immediately if he or she is initially upset.
  • Do reassure your partner that your intentions are to benefit him or her, as well as yourself.

Use References

Your lawyer, family members, or even a religious leader may have suggested the idea of a prenuptial agreement to you. This can be a very important aspect of your discussion. You can use this information to assure your partner that you did not decide this on your own, and that this is not about the state of your relationship. Rather, you are following the advice of those whom you trust and respect.

Related article: Marriage and Finance

If your partner is unsure of whether to sign an agreement, or what the terms of the agreement should be, you can suggest that he or she also seek out advice. There is a good chance he or she will receive the same advice from an impartial source.

Look at the Benefits

Even though it is important to be realistic about the potential of divorce, focusing on this possibility throughout the discussion is not advisable. This may make it seem as though you are expecting the marriage to end. Instead, talk about the practicalities of the arrangement as it would affect both of you.

You can use this as a way to show your partner that you want him or her to be provided for in the event of a divorce. The following topics could be included:

  • Do either of you have significant debt, such as student debt? Neither of you would want to be responsible for paying the other person’s debt after a divorce.
  • What kind of assets do you have? Do you plan to purchase any assets together, such as a car or house?
  • Do either of you have children from another relationship? How will they be taken care of?
  • How would your partner want to be treated in the event of a divorce? Remind him or her that this is a chance for the two of you to take control of your finances

Unequal Earnings

Bringing up a prenuptial agreement can be especially difficult if there are unequal earnings between the two of you. If you earn more than your partner, he or she might see this as you protecting yourself. If you earn less, your partner may see this as you trying to ensure alimony payments.

Related article: Financial Planning after a Divorce

However, if you approach the prenuptial agreement with the mindset that you want your partner to be taken care of if the relationship ends, you can avoid these difficulties. If you earn more than your partner, explain that you want to ensure he or she receives financial support after a divorce. If you earn less, remind your partner that it is beneficial to have asset protection in place.

Cooperate and Compromise

Make sure both you and your partner are contributing equally to the process of writing up the agreement. This is important to ensure that neither of you feels the other has an unequal amount of power in the relationship.

You also need to prepare for disagreements over different parts of the contract. You should be ready to discuss these calmly and rationally, without excessive emotion. If necessary, take an extended period of time to consider and discuss each point, perhaps setting several meetings for the two of you to work out the arrangements over a few weeks.

If you are concerned about cooperating effectively, consider using mediation. In fact, using a professional mediator for the legal aspect of the contract is preferable to you and your partner using your own lawyers. A mediator will be completely impartial in the agreement. This can help you and your partner rest assured that you are treated equally in the contract.

Plan to Revisit an Agreement

A prenuptial agreement can be an important part of managing your future finances. Make sure to leave room in the contract for alterations, in the event that you or your partner’s earnings change or if you purchase a large asset, such as a house.

During yearly reviews of your finances, or at key points of investment, you can bring out the contract and go over it again with your partner. Preparing to do this in advance can help to ensure both of you see the contract as a practical part of your financial planning.

Related article: Financial Planning Resources

It might also interest you: