Talking About Prenuptial Agreements
Premarital or prenuptial agreements – known as prenups – are tricky no matter how carefully you approach them. The reason behind this is that people are uncomfortable discussing the issues that are most commonly addressed in prenups – namely, divorce, and the consequences of seeking one. The hesitance to explore a prenuptial agreement also stems from a feeling of impending doom. Couples sometimes think that seeking a prenup is like asking for trouble or setting yourself up for divorce. Not true. Sometimes just talking about the issues addressed in a prenup is enough to settle sensitive matters.
After practicing family law – including divorce law – for over twenty years, there’s nothing I haven’t seen. I have a pretty good idea of what can harm, and even end, a marriage, and I know the signs to look for. If I were speaking to you one on one, here are some of the experiences I’d share:
Talking about money is never easy. But if you are ready to take the marriage step and make that commitment, you should also be ready to talk about money – how you intend to handle it, and how it will affect your future marriage. The trials life brings will either make or break your relationship. With a divorce rate that’s already off the charts, you may want to know that it’s even higher among couples with special needs children, sick children or children who have suffered a severe injury. Sometimes these kinds of pressures are just too much for a couple to sustain, both emotionally and financially.
Every couple experiences difficult days, so maybe you’re curious as to what actually brings on the decision to divorce. Well, I can tell you that it never happens overnight. Feelings of dissatisfaction or frustration come on gradually and grow with time. We actually call the deterioration of a marriage an erosion since it’s really the result of a progression of events.
Can day-to-day challenges chip away at a marriage? Of course but that being said, chances are the foundation of the marriage had already suffered some serious blows. Many couples who seek mediation are going through some kind of major life event or personal change within themselves. For example, people who have battled illnesses like cancer, or experienced a significant loss such as the death of a child or parent, often experience a re-evaluation of their own current situation. They recognize that they have simply accepted living an unhappy life for years, and decide that it’s now time for a change. In short, they believe that their life needs a makeover.
But let’s get back to the prenuptial agreement. If you can’t find the courage to discuss money with your life partner, how can you feel comfortable about facing any of life’s other challenges – the ones that affect us all, regardless of wealth or status – together? As an attorney who has handled an excessive number of divorce cases, I know that you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you avoid talking about these critical financial issues: money, property, inheritances, businessesthe list goes on.
Believe me, I understand how people in the midst of planning a wedding – one of the happiest events of a lifetime – are reluctant to possibly killing their bliss by bringing up uncomfortable topics like prenups. But remember: by doing so, you’re actually bringing added security to your relationship, because you’ve taken the time to address the hard questions. You won’t have to hear that dreaded phrase, “But I thought we agreed on this!” down the road.
It’s impossible for people, even couples in love, to agree on every single issue. That’s unrealistic. Differences in thoughts and opinions are inevitable. The key to a successful relationship knows how to deal with them.
As years pass, your marriage will be faced with a variety of tests: aging parents, employment issues, child rearing, and more. And, each issue will bring a stress all its own. A prenuptial agreement can provide the support you’ll need to tackle the curveballs life throws your way.
Explore prenuptial agreements. Or, at the very least, discuss the issues they address. Once the conversation starts, things will get easier.
Contact Peace Talks at: (310) 301-2100 for more details on prenuptial agreements.
Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediators and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services; it provides mediation services for divorce, custody, cohabitation and LGBT dissolutions, premarital and prenuptial agreements, estate planning, estate administration and family business disputes.