Prenups can be a delicate topic for most couples and negotiating the terms of the agreement could be harmful to the relationship. Many couples whose marriages ended in divorce traced their initial issues back to debating the terms of their prenuptial agreements. These agreement negotiations may do more damage to your future marriage than anyone may realize. When discussing prenups, there are two parties involved, the initiator and the compliant. The initiator is the party who wants the prenup and the compliant party is focus of the negotiations.
Because these types of negotiation and debates are not always structured, bad patterns can emerge from these intense debates that bleed over into a future marriage. Many fiancés in the compliant position may be their partners push for a prenup is a sign they don’t have faith in the relationship, or they have a negative opinion about how the other party manages money. The compliant partner can be made to feel like the relationship has been reduced to just dollars and cents. Plus, negotiating a prenuptial agreement is a very unromantic activity, which hardly sets the stage for a pending wedding and honeymoon.
It’s not surprising that so many newlyweds were left with negative experiences after their negotiations and felt it harmed their relationship. The reality of what a prenuptial agreement does is often overshadowed by the feelings it brings to the surface about the relationship and finances. Prenuptial negotiations don’t have to be this fraught and destructive. When approached as more of a conversation than negotiation, the outcome is better for both parties.
3 questions to ask before signing a prenup
A prenuptial agreement doesn’t have to signal doom for the relationship or cause each side to worry about the motivations of the other. Beginning a marriage on a secure financial footing can be a positive situation for both parties if the negotiations are structured as more of an arbitration. Debating about money and assets can quickly devolved into an argument and less of a negotiation, whereas a measured conversation about a future both parties hope never happens is a different way to frame the process. The process should begin by asking prepared questions that get to the heart of the matter at hand.
We’ve compiled a list of 3 questions to ask during prenuptial agreement negotiations.
- Why do we need this prenuptial agreement? For the compliant party, this is an important question that often never gets asked. If the initiator has business interests and investors that need to be protected in the event the marriage doesn’t last, this is a good time to communicate the reason behind the request. Plus, prenuptial agreements are only about protecting business interest, if this isn’t the first marriage for both parties or if there are children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement can protect assets intended for those children. It’s best not to assume the reason behind the request for a prenuptial agreement. It’s best to ask.
- Will this document change if the marriage produces children? Maybe you and your intended plan to keep your assets before the marriage separate. Does this change if we have children together? If there are children outside of the union in questions, how do children from this marriage change any arrangement made now. Deciding how you want your assets split among kids from this relationship or from future relationships should be discussed.
- What is your credit score and current debt to income ratio? Now is a good time to address this issue if you have not already. Marriage finances can become comingled even if you work hard to prevent it from happening. If you work to purchase a home together, your partner’s credit score and debt load can impact your ability to qualify for competitive rates or even to qualify at all. A prenuptial agreement is the perfect time to outline each debt and state who will need to pay for those in the event of a divorce. If your future spouse is carrying a significant amount of debt, this is an important safeguard should the marriage not work out.
Empathetic and Compassionate Representation
Many lawyers treat prenuptial negotiations like just another transaction. While it’s important to address important financial issues to protect the interests of both parties should the marriage not work, it’s also important to protect the relationship of the couple by encouraging empathy and respect during negotiations. Don’t let the poison of resentment saddle a promising new marriage. A prenuptial agreement will never be a romantic event, but you and your partner can work to ensure that it’s not a destructive one.
Beatriz Zyne, P.A., can help you with you draft or negotiate your prenuptial agreement. Call us now at (305) 876-6138 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form to request more information.