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My Future Spouse Doesn’t Want a Prenup

Planning for a wedding sometimes keeps couples so busy they forget to plan their future lives together. When so much more is at stake besides a single day of ceremony and fun, it can be tempting to think of a prenup as a romance killer. Many people object to planning for divorce before they’ve even said, “I do.”

There can be a lot of valid reasons that a future spouse doesn’t want a prenup. Raising the issue well before the wedding and planning for the conversation can help it go more smoothly. Convincing a fiance that a prenuptial (or premarital) agreement can protect everyone fairly in a marriage is the key to creating a document that works as intended.

Is Signing a Prenup Always Bad?

While our society raises us to believe in “love at first sight” and “til death do us part,” divorce statistics in the United States show that about 40% of marriages will end, although this number has dropped in recent years. Instead of thinking of a marriage as failed, the wise couple will recognize that people change over their lives, and what works in their 20s may not be viable in their 50s. 

Preparing for a different phase of life where a couple is not together can be one of the most loving moves they can make, especially if they have children. Working to protect each other and their offspring shows maturity and care. Additionally, when one spouse has current or potential income that outstrips the other, a prenup can ensure their money stays with them or goes to their children. Prenups can even provide sentimental arrangements, such as keeping an antique bassinet inherited from a great-great-grandmother in the original family.

When people don’t sign a prenup, it can end poorly. Writing financial and custody agreements when couples at the start of a marriage, when each wants what’s best for them both, means they’re more willing to compromise amicably. By the time a relationship ends, it’s often bitter and angry, and spouses may try to hurt each other through prolonged divorce trials. Having a clear-cut agreement from the beginning won’t make the partners love each other again, but it can prevent drawn-out negotiations that deplete finances or emotionally harm children.

When Prenups are Good, Everyone Benefits

A well-written prenup includes language about finances, future income, children, and contingencies for divorce. Really well-thought-out ones even go so far as to include details about day-to-day concerns, such as:

  • Visitation and accommodations for children from previous marriages
  • How often inlaws can visit and for how long
  • Division of household chores
  • Division of bills
  • Financial support for each other while obtaining advanced degrees
  • What happens if one partner is terminally ill or severely disabled
  • Agreed-upon conditions about relocation for employment opportunities
  • Number of children and how to rear them (such as religion, diet, and schooling)
  • Custody for children and pets after divorce
  • Vacation schedules and locations
  • What happens in cases of infidelity
  • Property division or vacation home sharing schedules after divorce

While most couples won’t get into this much detail, it can be eye-opening and helpful to see what others include in their agreements. Just knowing that some people ask for options like these can open the conversation to what each partner would like or need. These talks could lead to a deeper understanding of each other’s desires and dreams. Likewise, couples might discover that they aren’t on the same page as much as they thought.

Hiring an experienced family law attorney for each partner can help them negotiate a customized prenup agreement. Using a boilerplate document isn’t a good idea, and this is a bad time to cut corners on a legal contract that can be foundational for a marriage.

When Prenups are Bad, Someone Could Suffer

The reason some partners may balk at signing a prenup is that it feels unfair or cold. Many people associate these agreements with an expectation of divorce or withholding assets from their spouse. Dishonestly written prenups can do exactly that, and victims of those documents often sue to have the agreement nullified. 

Prenups written and signed under certain conditions can be unfair to one party and are sometimes considered illegal. Judges may throw out a prenup in situations when:

  • It contains unfair provisions.
  • It was signed under duress.
  • It was signed without the benefit of a lawyer.
  • One party misrepresented their assets.
  • It violates state laws.
  • It has vague language or doesn’t agree with verbal discussions.

Forcing a fiance to sign an agreement through emotional or physical abuse may lead a court to discard a contract. This includes pressure from family members to sign or threats to withhold affection. Some individuals may attempt to hide their assets when marrying in a community property state to prevent a 50/50 split in the event of divorce. Overall, prenups written without the input of both parties and with undue pressure are discouraged.

How to Talk About a Prenuptial Agreement

When couples are excited to face a future life together, they want what is best for the relationship overall. Even when it seems unromantic to discuss dollars and divisions, it can serve as a strong foundation for the marriage. Here are some recommendations for discussing a prenup with a partner:

  • Frame the discussion as an act of love: Wanting what’s best for both people and any children is the key to discussing a prenup logically and with care.
  • Highlight the positive aspects: Talking about what might go wrong and what to do in those events can allow a couple to solve problems before they arise. Having a plan that covers known frustration points (like inlaws) can ease the pressure.
  • Acknowledge any disagreements: When something is a sticking point, addressing it before the wedding day gives the couple time to decide if it can be resolved at all. This can prove critical if a relationship is already on rocky ground.
  • Allow plenty of uninterrupted time: Earlier is better for discussing a prenup, and it’s not something to discuss while rushing around before work. Allow time to talk about it on multiple occasions and in as calm an environment as possible.
  • Hire two lawyers: Each partner should have their own attorney examine the agreement and negotiate any differences. This can prevent unfair conditions or incomplete considerations.

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