Before “I do.” Debunking Common Myths or Misconceptions About Prenuptial Agreements

Wedding Bands on Paper

With Valentine’s Day approaching, the month of February often brings to mind romantic visions of hearts, roses, chocolates, and the thought of that special someone. Especially for couples who are engaged and soon to be married, love is in the air!

When couples begin planning their wedding, they are not immediately thinking of separation or divorce, never mind planning for such circumstances. Premarital agreements are haunted by negative stereotypes and many misconceptions. In reality, prenuptial agreements merely outline each spouse’s rights and obligations to one another, prior to the marriage, putting a plan in place to provide couples with a predictable structure for a successful marital union.

Will signing an agreement start our marriage off on the wrong foot?

  • Couples should think of signing a prenuptial agreement like an insurance policy. Homeowners don’t buy flood insurance with the expectation that their home will inevitably flood. However, if there is a flood, the owners have a solution already in place. Similarly, a prenuptial agreement helps a couple know they have a plan of action, should something happen in the marriage. This helps many couples feel safe or protected.

I trust my spouse and even if we did get a divorce, we would never argue over finances.

  • Seeking a premarital agreement is not an indicator of trust, or lack thereof. Drafting a prenuptial agreement allows couples a formal opportunity to discuss their finances and expectations of one another during their marriage. It’s true you and your spouse may not argue over the savings accounts, but what about certain sentimental items? It’s also impossible to truly know how any person may react in a future scenario such as divorce. Even if you don’t foresee bickering over finances, there are other valuable reasons for seeking a prenup.

Will my partner question my feelings for them if I ask for a premarital agreement?

  • While every agreement is situational, asking for an agreement may in fact garner more positive feelings between spouses. Signing an agreement may promote trust between one another. Discussing prenuptial agreements may feel intimidating or awkward. Drafting and signing one showcases how as a couple, you can work through difficult conversations. Couples may even feel like they know each other better afterwards as it provides both parties with insight regarding the types of things, in marriage, that matter to their partner.

Aren’t prenuptial agreements only for the extremely wealthy?

  • Premarital agreements extend far beyond dollars and cents and encompass more than just your monetary assets. Prenuptial agreements can cover all marital assets and liabilities. There are countless selfless reasons you may want a premarital agreement. For example, you may want to protect your spouse from having to incur certain debt liability that you have incurred, such as your student loans. Or perhaps one of you has a child from a previous relationship and wants to ensure that the child inherits a portion of that spouse’s property. If there is a family heirloom or interest in a family trust that you or your family want to maintain within your family bloodline, this could be included in your agreement as well. Maybe, as a couple, you decided you wanted to keep certain property separate for tax or liability reasons. If there is business ownership involved, this could be a factor that influences your decision to sign a prenup, too. In the chance of divorce, such agreements may also save the parties money throughout the process as it provides a starting point for negotiations regarding settlement expectations. Whatever your reason, practical or more emotional, prenuptial agreements are helpful for all couples.

Prenuptial agreements are always unfair to one of the parties.

  • Prenuptial agreements are not intended to be unfair to anyone. Ideally, they should bring both spouses peace of mind. However, if upon execution a court finds that certain provisions of the agreement are particularly unjust to one of the parties, or if it seems likely that one party was coerced or deceived, then the court may not enforce the agreement. This illustrates the importance of seeking legal counsel when drafting agreements. Having a lawyer draft or review your premarital agreement can both effectuate the best results for the couple, but also increase the likelihood that the court will uphold the agreement in the future.

Are you and your significant other looking to have your premarital agreement drafted or reviewed? At Ryder & Phelps, P.C., we will work with you and your partner to draft or review an equitable prenuptial agreement. Please visit our website, or call our office at (978) 381-1660 to schedule your consultation. We look forward to working with you!