The Pros and Cons of Prenups: What You Should Know

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Everyone is always supportive of saving time and money, but when it comes to your personal life are prenuptial agreements the killers of romance? Protecting your assets sounds like a good idea on paper, and you don’t want to pick up someone else’s debt, but it is good to know both the pros and cons of a prenup.

Prenup Pros 

Prenups are generally based on a couple’s situation at the beginning of a marriage. Changed circumstances might cause a prenup that was initially fair to have detrimental effects on one spouse. Be sure to protect yourself and your assets if you feel it necessary. Here’s a look at five prenup pros:

  1. Protects your financial assets
  2. You live in a community property state
  3. You expect to receive a substantial inheritance
  4. Compromise could help you
  5. It protects you from unforeseen events

1. Protects Your Financial Assets

A major prenup pro is that they are intended to protect your finances in case of divorce or death. If you have a lot invested in financial assets, you might want to consider one. Remember, if circumstances change, you and your spouse can sign an agreement after marriage, called a postnuptial agreement, that is just as binding as a contract before marriage.

2. You Live in a Community Property State

Some states, like California, have laws about marital property division called community property laws. These laws divide property in two ways:

  • Separate property — belonging entirely to one spouse.
  • Community property — belonging equally to both spouses. All income earned by either spouse during marriage is community property.
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If you like the idea of pooling income and acquiring assets together, you don’t need a prenup in a community property state. Sharing income and assets, you decide everything with your spouse as a partnership. There are also opportunities for you to work within the property laws of your state which can be benefited by a prenuptial agreement.

3. You Expect To Receive a Substantial Inheritance

You should consider a prenup if you expect to receive an inheritance, according to family law attorney Damien McKinney, with the McKinney Law Group of Tampa, Fla. “If you expect to inherit substantial amounts of money from family, it is always advisable to have a prenuptial agreement to protect those assets in the event you do divorce,” McKinney said.

In community property states, money and property inherited during a marriage remains the separate property of the beneficiary spouse. However, if you mingle it with community property, it can lose its character of separate property and be treated as community property, owned equally by both spouses.

4. Compromise Could Help You

You win some, you lose some, right? Unfortunately, divorcing spouses often refrain from compromising out of spite as they have to stick to the legal documents and marital agreements.

While you might be tempted to fight every battle that comes your way, agreeing to compromises could save you a lot of headaches and money on legal fees when going through a divorce. As a bonus, your decision to compromise could encourage your spouse to do the same.

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5. It Protects You From Unforeseen Events

When you are considering a prenup, friends might tell you it’s better to fight early over a prenup than later in an expensive divorce battle. But things are not always that black and white.

While the intention of signing a prenup might be to provide financial certainty, certainty is not possible when it comes to the future. It’s impossible to anticipate all of the issues and financial configurations that you might be facing if or when your marriage ends.

Prenup Cons

In many cases, prenups may not be worth the hassle of going through the paperwork or can even feel like you are setting your marriage up to fail. Here are some prenup cons to consider: 

  1. Takes the romance out of the wedding
  2. Your religious beliefs prohibit divorce
  3. All you are worried about is child support
  4. Your finances are beyond the reach of divorce
  5. You can’t afford it

1. Takes the Romance Out of the Wedding

A prenup con to consider is that there is nothing romantic whatsoever about it. You understand perfectly well that nothing lasts forever, but must you think about all that during those blissful days before your wedding? If romance is more important to you than finance, the personal price you pay for a prenup might be too high.

2. Your Religious Beliefs Prohibit Divorce

If both you and your spouse are practicing members of a religion that forbids divorce, a prenuptial agreement might not be very important to you. A prenup addresses property division if you divorce. Courts will not uphold these kinds of personal preferences in a prenup. Premarital agreements are intended to address financial issues.

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Even matters of separate versus community property relate to who will walk away with property after divorce. So if you are both resolved on making your marriage last a lifetime, a prenup is an expensive and unnecessary bother.

3. All You Are Worried About Is Child Support

Perhaps you don’t care about dividing up money with your spouse in case you split. And you aren’t concerned about alimony or asset division. But, if you do want any kids, you have to get child support if you divorce and you’d like to get an agreement on custody and parenting time.

Perhaps not a total prenup con, but it does mean you can forget the prenup for this issue. You can’t determine child support or custody matters by prenup.

4. Your Finances Are Beyond the Reach of Divorce

If you get most of your income from a trust or similar legal instrument established before the marriage, you might not need a prenup agreement.

In community property states, property interests acquired before marriage are the spouse’s separate property. So if you are the recipient of distributions from a trust or other fund or instrument created before the marriage, the trust/retirement/pension funds are already established as separate property, and the incoming funds are also separate.

5. You Can’t Afford It

It isn’t cheap to get a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement. First, each party should have an attorney — some state courts require this before enforcing a prenup. That means you’ll have two attorneys negotiating with each other, typically getting paid by the hour.

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If you have no money, you have no prenup. It is not worth the cost to you, since you have no assets or income to protect. Instead of considering a prenup, grow your paycheck.

Is a Prenup Worth It?

Many experts agree that a prenup is usually worth it. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Before making your decision, consider all the pros and cons of a prenup and talk it over with your partner. Make sure you both agree on the final choice.

Final Take

Court costs and the divorce process can add up. In the event your marriage doesn’t work out, you could still have to pay your ex alimony or spousal support. There are pros and cons of a prenup depending on your current financial situation. In many cases, it may not be necessary but a prenup can protect both your assets and debts you currently have or could have in the future.

Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.


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