When your partner finally pops the long-awaited question, the euphoria that takes over you might cloud your vision momentarily. However, rushing into this life-changing agreement without ample preparation may not be wise. While you may not want to have a pessimistic disposition at the doorstep of your happiness, you should remember that not all marriages end like a fairy tale and even though your decisions are guided by love, marriage is essentially a legal matter and needs to be regarded as such.
Prenups are not a sign of caution and distrust in your partner. Rather, they are insurance of sorts that smart individuals invest in their relationship so they can sit back and relax, knowing that everything will be in order even if the Universe has different plans for them. If you are going to get married soon, you may want to consider setting up a prenup with your soon-to-be spouse. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a prenup?
A prenup or prenuptial agreement is essentially a contract between a couple that is to get married shortly. It is a legal document that details what will happen to assets should the relationship end up in divorce. As said, some people may regard prenups with antagonism. After all, you are only about to get married. Why should you think about the worst-case scenario? However, such negative connotations surrounding this topic are nothing more than myths. Drawing up a prenuptial agreement shows that the two of you care about each other. There are a lot of other myths, too, that may make you believe that a prenup is not something necessary for you. To clear your doubts, here are the truths.
They are not just for wealthy couples
One of the most common misconceptions regarding this topic is that prenups are only for wealthy couples, or for couples where at least one party boasts considerable wealth. In actuality, prenups are there to protect all kinds of assets, not just money. They can even include agreements about debts. So regardless of the figure in your bank account, you have every right to a prenup and to feel confident about the relationship you are about to enter.
While prenups are not restricted by the quantities of assets one has, they do make important statements about financial questions that are relevant in every marriage out there. For instance, getting financial roles and expectations down before marriage is highly recommended. Unless these are topics that you can openly discuss with your partner, it may not even be a good idea to take it further. Some agreements in this document can be along the lines of having separate bank accounts or a joint one, or one party agreeing to take on the responsibility of paying the mortgage while the other covering bills or some other expenses. You get the idea.
Protecting both you and your partner
It should be noted that a prenup cannot be too one-sided. After all, its goal is to protect, not to take advantage of. All in all, prenups need to fulfill a list of criteria to be valid, and if the agreements are deemed unfair, the contract may not be accepted. Remember that disputes and separations can be tough and stressful. Of course, you want to avoid such things, but it’s good to be covered in case they do end up happening. A valid prenuptial agreement will make divorce as painless as possible, and that is something you will be thankful for.
The most crucial role of a prenup will be making sure that assets are divided according to the agreement in case of separation. Hopefully, this will not be the case, but you never know. As with any other legal matter, seeking out the insight of lawyers is highly recommended. They will not only be able to give you informed advice, but they may also shed light on things you didn't know about marriage law before. For instance, did you know that today, in some countries, you don’t necessarily have to be married to your partner to be considered a couple legally? According to Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers, de-facto couples are recognized by the law in property settlements and other similar matters. In any case, you should inform yourself and have your representation before signing anything.
Prenups don’t include everything
Finally, another truth that not everyone might know about prenup agreements is that they don't include everything. For instance, pre-marital assets are usually not included. What's even more vital, a prenup does not include children. That means that child support rights cannot be manipulated with this agreement.
While prenups are certainly crucial documents if it comes to divorce, you have probably concluded yourself that that is not their only function. Prenuptial agreements can ensure that both of you enter the marriage with similar expectations and your roles and responsibilities are clear, which prevents conflicts that could lead to divorce in the first place.
Alison Pearson is an interior design student. She is a writer and designer, and her ultimate passion is art and architecture. She is also a bibliophile and her favourite book is "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner. Follow her on Twitter.