Wine, Roses and Pre-Nupts: Why Are Pre-Nupts Important?

When a couple is planning to further their relationship through marriage, much planning goes into it. It is a time of love, happiness, hope and dreams for the future. Why would anyone want to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement (commonly known as a pre-nupt) when they would rather be choosing flowers and tasting wedding cake?

Pre-nupts have gotten a bad rap, I’m afraid. They are often associated with situations in which one spouse has accumulated much wealth while the other is in a less affluent financial state. People often think that pre-nupts exist purely so that the wealthy spouse can protect his or her wealth in the event of a divorce. While that is true in some circumstances, there are other reasons for a couple to have a pre-nupt prior to getting married and pre-nupts are not only for couples who have a wealth imbalance.

Pre-nupts can be beneficial to get the conversation started. As a couple plans their wedding, the conversations generally are about choosing a band, deciding on the location for the reception, and completing the guest list. Couples rarely are talking about each other’s spending habits, philosophy on saving, investing, money management and beliefs about children and how they should be raised, religious choices, etc. Deciding to have a pre-nupt before the wedding opens the doors for exploration of these important topics. Knowing each other and each other’s beliefs on these and other important topics can help to avoid surprises later and make a couple’s relationship stronger.

Having a pre-nupt in place allows a couple to decide how finances are going to be handled in the event of the breakdown of the relationship. If one spouse is going to quit a job to further their education and the other agrees to support the family, how will that be handled in the event of a divorce? If one spouse sacrifices their career to be a stay-at-home parent, how will that be accounted for in the event of a divorce?

Pre-nupts can offer some certainty and peace of mind in the event of a divorce. Without a pre-nupt, the existing family laws will be govern how a couple’s finances are going to be handled. Laws change all the time; having a pre-nupt takes away the risk that the laws will not be applied favorably or will not adequately address the needs of their family.

So, in addition to choosing the flowers and wine, consider including a pre-nupt to your wedding preparations. It makes good sense!