Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Discussing a prenuptial agreement is not necessarily romantic, but clarity about financial roles, responsibilities, and expectations may actually deter marital conflict and divorce. Note that in California, provisions regarding child custody and child support are generally not enforceable, which is why this post refers mostly to financial issues. Read on to find out how to discuss a premarital agreement with your future spouse.
You're in love. You're getting married. You're exhilarated for your future.
You also know that with marriage comes real life. Real life means financial responsibility and planning. Maybe you have an inheritance or a business. Maybe your parents endured a nasty divorce that scarred you. You want to discuss a prenuptial agreement, but you don't want to insult your future spouse. You're not sure how to handle this sensitive topic.
Accept that fact that you're going to feel awkward.
There's no way around it: discussing a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse for the first time is going to feel awkward. Probably don't approach your spouse off the bat with, "I can't marry you without a prenup." Likewise, the middle of an argument is probably not the best time, either. Consider bringing up the topic while discussing financial issues and planning. Lastly, make sure to practice genuine, effective listening.
Remember, you're on the same team.
Bring up the topic gently to feel it out, but be straightforward - you're doing the right thing to protect your marriage and your family. A marriage is about far more than sorting the wedding gifts, it involves serious financial planning.
Assure your future spouse that you want the agreement to be fair. You're beginning together in best possible way - by being open and honest about the hard stuff. Keep in mind, all marriages end one way or another, whether in death or divorce. To that end, try asking a question framed in the best interest of your family such as, "At the end of our marriage, whether it ends in death, as we assume, or otherwise, what would be important to you?’”
Suggest creating the agreement together.
Both spouses should participate in creating the terms of the agreement; these agreements are highly customizable and should deal with each spouse's concerns. A prenuptial agreement is not about depriving one spouse of a fair arrangement, but rather, it's about creating a contingency plan that is palatable for both spouses. In a second or third marriage, spouses may seek to protect assets for their children from previous marriages.
Both spouses benefit from having a clearly-defined, predictable financial future. If one spouse is wealthier than the other, the monied spouse deserves to know the extent of his or her financial responsibilities. If one spouse plans to forgo career opportunities, for example to raise children, that spouse deserves to know that they will not be left destitute.
Be honest and transparent.
Some people are conservative with their investing, while others take on more risk. Some people pay their credit cards off in full every month, others rack up bills and make minimum payments. Some people are savers who live below their means, others live pay-check-to-paycheck regardless of their income. These are things you want to know before you get married. For a successful marriage, you need to be open and honest about the hard stuff.
A prenuptial agreement helps clearly define financial roles and responsibilities during the marriage, which may actually deter marital conflict and divorce, regardless of your wealth level. Financial disagreements are stronger predictors of divorce relative to other common marital disagreements.
Sure, this topic can be awkward, but an awkward discussion today can save you from a very expensive and uncertain future -- and may even protect your future marriage.
If you are seeking a Los Angeles prenuptial agreement attorney or postnuptial agreement attorney, call the Law Office of Emily E. Rubenstein at (310) 750-0827. We proudly serve Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, the South Bay, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino and all of Los Angeles County.