Prenuptial Agreements – a Benefit or Sign of Mistrust?

San Diego, CA – When celebrities get divorced, we often wonder if there was a prenuptial agreement in place, and how their riches will be divided. But prenuptial agreements aren’t just for the famous or very wealthy – they serve to protect the financial future of everyone. Prenuptial agreements are a responsible financial decision for marrying couples.

Prenuptial Agreement paper with a pen on it

“Prenuptial agreements are often characterized as a sign that the wealthier person in the relationship might not trust the other one, or that the couple is entering into the marriage assuming it will fail,” says John Griffith. “While it probably won’t be the most romantic thing you do during your wedding planning, drawing up a prenup can actually bring you closer as a couple and ensure that no matter what happens in the future, both parties are protected. With a prenuptial agreement, both sides know what to expect in the unlikely event of a split.”

The general public may assume that a prenup is an effort by a wealthier spouse to ensure his or her assets are protected in the case of a divorce. While this can be the case, prenuptial agreements can also ensure that the supported spouse knows what he or she will be entitled to in the event of a divorce. This can provide a sense of security to the supported spouse. Prenuptial agreements can actually serve to create open and honest communication between an engaged couple, and help each side fully understand their joint financial situation prior to the marriage and serve to set boundaries for the marital relationship. Setting boundaries reduces conflict.

Improve communication about finances
This is one of the most important things a prenuptial agreement can do to help engaged couples. One of the biggest disagreements married couples have is over finances. If you don’t go into your marriage with a clear understanding not only of your financial situation, but your spouse’s as well, and you don’t talk about how you’ll handle your money, it can create a serious bump in the road.

“At some point, you and your future spouse will have to talk about money,” says Mr. Griffith. “It’s not always glamorous, and for most of us, it doesn’t involve talking about our riches. More often than not, it includes debt from things like student loans. It is smart to get all of that out on the table before marriage, so each party has a clear understanding of income, assets, and debt.”

This is beneficial to both parties. Terry Savage, author of “The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In or Moving On!” explains that talking about these issues before marriage has the added benefit of getting everything in the open when you’re most in love and in tune with each other. Saving it for later in the marriage can lead to arguments and contentious situations.

Gain control, and peace of mind
If your marriage were to end in the future without a prenup, your future financial situation may be left up to the mercy of the court. The California Family Code is a series of laws that will dictate how assets and debts are divided in a divorce with no prenuptial agreement.

Having a prenup guarantees that if your marriage ends in divorce, you will have a complete understanding of your financial situation because it will be laid out in the agreement. It can serve to make a divorce easier on both parties because you won’t have to argue over these details. You might also save thousands in potential attorney’s fees.

Assume the best, but plan for the worst
Even though you enter into your marriage assuming it will never end, we know that sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. You don’t plan to have your house burn down, yet you still have homeowner’s insurance – think of a prenuptial agreement in the same way. It doesn’t mean you are entering into marriage assuming it will end. But it does mean that should it end one day, you have insured your future.

Author Savage says “Just the very act of discussing and trying to come to an agreement — before you even see the attorneys — will help reveal what you have in common, and what might become a ‘dealbreaker.’ And you want to know these things before you get married!”

Talking through the issues that are laid out in a prenuptial agreement will help each side understand what they are getting into, before they say “I do.” If your fiancé has a large amount of debt from school or something else, it can be helpful to know that beforehand, and create a plan for how that debt will be handled, and by whom.

When signing a prenuptial agreement, it is important for both parties to be represented by separate counsel. This can ensure each party’s best interest is taken into account. If you are currently engaged, or thinking about getting engaged soon, the experienced family law attorneys at Griffith, Young and Lass have extensive experience drafting prenuptial agreements in California. Call today for a free consultation – 858-345-1720.

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