If your fiancé has popped the question—“want to sign a prenup”—here are three things to look for in the prenup before signing it.
What do you want to happen during you marriage? Do you want children? How many? Do you want either of you to stay home to raise the children? Will one of you open a business? Will both of you work at that business? Will both of you pursue high-paying careers or will one follow their dreams instead? Is your partner onboard with your ideas?
Answering these questions is important to ensure that a prenuptial agreement will be fair to you in the long run.
If you and your partner agree that one of you will stay home to raise children, then waiving alimony in a prenup might not be a good idea. If you and your partner definitely don’t want either to claim alimony, then you may want to agree that both of you will earn similar salaries. By setting out and agreeing on the marriage expectations from the start, you increase the odds that your marriage will align with your goals.
Of course, sometimes life throws a wrench in our plans. Having your marriage expectations listed in a prenup will help you later to invalidate the prenup if the agreement is no longer fair.
For example, your child is born with a disability, and although initially you agreed that neither would be a stay-at-home parent, you jointly decide that it will be more affordable for one of you to raise your child than to place your child in special child care. In that event, if you will be getting a divorce and your prenup waives alimony, you may be able to invalidate the prenup as unfair, pointing to the unexpected life event.
Equality does not always mean a 50/50 slit. It could be, but equality can also be that each person gets to walk away with what they brought to the relationship. It can be that each person gets rewarded proportionally to their contribution. Equality may be that the person who brings in the most debt to the marriage should get less during the divorce since marital money went to pay off that person’s personal debt. Or it can be anything else your creative mind comes up with.
In a prenup, you get to decide what is equality. You get to define contribution. You get to describe how you value the different contributions, efforts, assets, debts, etc.
If you and your partner believe that contributions around the house—such as cleaning, cooking, lawn mowing, remodeling, and household fixing—are more valuable than the dollars on a paycheck, then you can agree that the party who contributes more around the house will get to keep more during a divorce. If you and your partner will be equally contributing around the house and raising the children, then you may decide that whoever brings more cash to the family will get to walk away with more property. If one of you invested significantly more into the relationship and household before marriage, then you may want that person to recover that investment by keeping more of the marital property. And so on.
The goal is to make the prenup fair and equal—however you define fairness and quality.
This is actually required by law. For the prenup to be valid, you and your partner must disclose all of your income, your assets, and your debts. You need to list in the prenup all of these items, including their actual or fair market value. After you disclose your income, assets, and debts, your partner might end up not wanting a prenup after all or may be willing to change some of the terms. Same with you or you might actually want a prenup once you see how much debt your partner has.
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