Congratulations, you just got engaged. You and your fiancée are on cloud nine, Nothing could be better. Now you have garner the strength to utter the most unromantic words –”I want a pre-nuptial agreement.” How do you do it?
Given the high divorce rate, a pre nuptial agreement offers a hedge against the unfortunate, but possible prospect of divorce. The agreement forces you and your soon-to-be spouse to discuss ending the marriage even before it has begun.
So, how do you discuss divorce when you also planning your marriage?
1. Request a pre-nup soon after the engagement.
Do not wait until the invitations are in the mail to request a pre-nup. Ideally, a pre-nuptial agreement should be signed and negotiated well in advance of the wedding. Springing the pre-nup on your fiancée on the eve of the wedding will leave him/her feeling as if they’ve been ambushed-not a great way to start a life together.
2. Explain why you want a pre-nup.
Be transparent and honest. You want a pre-nuptial agreement for a reason-why? Are you looking to protect an inheritance? Do have children from a previous relationship or are you simply looking to protect assets? Do you have a family history of messy divorces?
3. Be transparent
In order for a pre nuptial agreement to be valid, there must be full disclosure. Be prepared to honestly share your net worth and income. You are incentivized to reveal all your assets- any assets you own prior to marriage will usually remain your separate property in the event of divorce; if your fiancée acknowledges something is separate property when you sign a pre-nup, he/she cannot later claim it is marital later when you divorce.
4. Be prepared to negotiate the terms.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a not a winner-take-all proposition. A good agreement encompasses both your marital expectations.
5. Seek Independent Counsel
You and your fiancée will both be represented. Don’t expect that you can ride roughshod over your fiancées’ terms and concerns. His or her attorney will certainly pay attention to them.
6. Allow for changes over time.
A pre-nuptial agreement is intended to address issues that have not yet or may not occur. For instance, one party may be self supporting and not need maintenance at the time of the marriage, but may become a stay at home parent after you have children. Years away from the work force could reduce his/her employability. The agreement should address this contingency.
7. Remember the goal is to get married.
Be reasonable. This is the person you supposedly love and want to marry. If you over-reach or are overly aggressive, the wedding may never take place or worse yet, you may be reviewing the divorce provisions of the pre nup very early in the marriage.