So you are getting married. Congratulations on finding a person with whom you can share your life, rely on, and confide in, especially during difficult times. In other words, your best friend. It means you should be able to talk to them about anything, right? Yes, in theory. But in reality, couples often have a hard time bringing up the topic of a prenuptial agreement with their partner. They think their partner will get offended, that it will make them doubt the love they share, that it might cause a fight, or, worse, a breakup.
That doesn’t have to be the case, especially if you broach the topic of a prenup with your partner in a way that makes you and them comfortable while getting the document done. And not only done but done in a calm manner so that it’s inclusive of all the issues you intend to cover, to cover both of you in the event your marriage doesn’t work out.
With a prenuptial agreement in place, you can save yourself a lot of emotional anguish and money during the divorce process. An added bonus, one commonly overlooked, is that prenups can actually make your marriage stronger and possibly keep you from ever having to rely on it in a divorce.
A prenuptial agreement forces you to address common marital issues before walking down the aisle. Those issues can include household finances, child-rearing, division of labor, premarital assets and debts, and who will remain gainfully employed during the marriage and for how long, among others.
Your prenup can address issues unique to you and your partner, pretty much any issue that could cause a divide down the road. In other words, a prenuptial agreement helps both partners understand what they’re getting into by marrying, specifically what life will look like for them after the wedding, even decades later. For these reasons, a prenup might be the most valuable wedding present you give each other.
Still not sold that raising the issue of a prenup with your future bride or groom won’t cause tension between you? I have a few tips about how to get the conversation started.
Start the discussion as far before the wedding as possible.
Washington has a rule that for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, a couple must begin the process months before the wedding. Therefore, to ensure your document is valid, you should complete and sign your document as far in advance as possible before marrying.
For a prenuptial agreement to survivor a challenge later from either of you during a divorce or from a spouse’s estate should one of you predecease the other, it’s important to follow as closely as possible Washington’s rules on the subject.
When enforcing a prenuptial agreement, Washington courts examine the circumstances surrounding the drafting of the document and the terms included in it. In general, as long as a prenuptial agreement is fair to both partners, both partners understand their legal rights and what they are giving up, and neither partner was under duress to sign it, a Washington court will uphold it.
Discuss why you are doing this.
When you raise the topic of a prenup with your partner, don’t just say you want one. Explain why. Discuss the reasons mentioned above and any others you might have. If, for example, you have a few family heirlooms you would want to return to relatives, you now have the perfect opportunity to tell your partner your reasons.
The examples of why you might want a prenup are endless. The point is your spouse might be more understanding than you think they will be if you simply share your thoughts. Chances are you will find out that they have some concerns or assets they want to protect, too.
Take ownership of your desire to have a prenup.
If you are getting married, you are an adult now. Adults take ownership of the choices they make, including getting a prenuptial agreement. Therefore, be honest that having a prenuptial agreement is something you value. Not that it would make someone else — your parents, your siblings, even your dog — happy. Your partner will respect you more if you don’t pass the buck about why you are, for example, trying to protect yours.
The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to protect both spouses in the event of a dissolution. When drafting a prenup, you will be less likely to anger your future spouse if you show concern for their interests, too.
In other words, don’t go into your negotiation expecting to win on every point. As Nora Ephron said, “Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.” The same holds for marrying a woman.
Consult a Seattle divorce and family law attorney.
If you are interested in a prenuptial agreement, our team of Seattle divorce and family lawyers can help. From providing support and sound advice about how to speak with your future spouse about prenups to drafting a prenup that will stand the test of time, our empathetic family law attorneys know how much you value your relationship and want to see it endure along with your agreement.
If you need assistance enforcing or modifying an existing prenup, our Washington divorce and, if necessary, estate planning lawyers are here for you, too. Contact us today.