Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Asking for a prenup in a "nice" way.
December 14, 2010 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Any tips on broaching the subject of a pre-nup?

I am not seeking legal advice, just your thoughts on how best to crack this difficult nut.

Background: I've been married once before; the marriage dissolved when my ex had an affair. It was totally shocking, and entirely out of character; we had been together nearly 20 years. The one benefit was that my ex and I are each professionals, there was no question of either supporting the other, and we each kept our own assets and liabilities.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm going to be married again, though I haven't proposed yet. I have somewhere around $450,000 in assets; my girlfriend has less, but she stands to inherit at least that much from her parents someday.

I'd like to discuss a prenup with my girlfriend, but I really don't know how. She is no gold digger, having been blindsided by my ex wife's affair, I'd like to make sure that I have some measure of protection for my nest egg. I think there is a fair arrangement--we each keep what we come with (me: lots; her: little) and keep the inheritances we stand to receive (me: little; her: lots). We're in a state where the law would otherwise provide for 50/50 split of everything, regardless of when/where/how acquired.

Any thoughts on how to proceed? Is this a pre-proposal question? Post-proposal? I really do adore this woman, and I don't want her to think I'm some sort of rat.
posted by myaskme to Human Relations (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Post-proposal. And why don't you start by asking her whether she's ever given the subject any thought? You could, if you're especially nervous about it, add it to a list of practicalities to be discussed, like date/place/size of wedding, honeymoon, maybe some other stuff. That way (if you were in fact especially nervous about it), you could frame it as if it were a checklist of things to consider that you saw online. You could even say the words with a kind of delivery that conveyed that you don't care all that much, but well, here it is on the list, so ...

No, I'm not an enormous weasel. But I haven't forgotten how ...
posted by troywestfield at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2010


I think there is a fair arrangement--we each keep what we come with (me: lots; her: little) and keep the inheritances we stand to receive (me: little; her: lots).

I would avoid coming into this with a pre-conceived idea of what the agreement should be. The point is that you are both going to decide on what is fair, rather than relying on the laws of whatever state you happen to be living it at any given time. If she feels like this just to protect your assets and isn't really in her best interest, then she has a legitimate reason to dislike the idea of a pre-nup.

Is this a pre-proposal question? Post-proposal?

You could fish for some sort of indication of how she feels about pre-nups of finances of marriage in general, but I would definitely avoid asking her point blank before you propose. It should be a "We're going to get married, now let's figure out the details of how that's going to work financially" thing, rather than a "I'm not comfortable marrying you unless you sign away your rights to my money" thing.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am not a lawyer and have never discussed a pre-nup, but I wonder if you can more readily broach the issue if one of the other uses of a pre-nup applies to your specific situation. For example, if you have already done some estate planning or have a family heirloom, this page suggests that there are benefits associated with writing a pre-nup (e.g., "I want to make sure my fifth grade teacher is always provided for...can we talk about how to make sure that happens if I die?"). Talking about a relatively judgment-free issue might open the door to the less palatable discussion regarding assets and divorce.
posted by eisenkr at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2010


Post-proposal. I tend to think pre-nups are tacky to begin with, and definitely shouldn't be discussed before you even find out if she wants to marry you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2010


Even though you haven't officially proposed, do you guys talk about marriage at all? From this line, it sounds like you have: I'm going to be married again, though I haven't proposed yet.

I think you could broach it during those conversations about marriage. I think you could say something like this without causing offense or hurt: "Honey, it doesn't feel good to even bring this up as a possibility, because I love you so much. But have you thought about how you would want things to go in case it didn't work out between us? Maybe that's something we should discuss now."
posted by Ashley801 at 11:10 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


(And just to give a counterpoint to everyone else, if I were your girlfriend, I would want to have this talk pre-proposal because it would weigh into my decision in a big way. It would be awful to be in a position of accepting and then un-accepting.)
posted by Ashley801 at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2010 [20 favorites]


I'd recommend feeling her out on the topic in general. If she's sort of practical about it, she might be okay with it. If she's pretty much repulsed by it, you're going to have to do some thinking.

I would not bring it up post-proposal. If you think think there's a possibility she'd reject the marriage out of hand, I kind of think the whole thing would be less unpleasant if you knew where you stood first. I wouldn't marry someone who wanted a pre-nup so you might want to find out if she is similarly uncompromising on the topic.

(Then again, she might not like it personally but might be okay with it with you, out of compassion for what you went through in your first marriage. )
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tacky or not, pre-nups are just good sense. More and more couples are coming into relationships later in life when they have more of their own assets. It may not be the Disney Princess story, but a marriage is a business partnership and finances are HUGE.

My husband brought it up to me in the same kind of situation - he had assets coming in to the marriage (home equity and paid-off vehicle) but I had the potential of much greater assets in the future (graduate degree and inheritance).

His reasoning was that divorces are ugly and he never wanted to get divorced and he only ever wanted to get married once, but that wouldn't the best time to negotiate be when we both loved and respected each other? ie - when we were planning our wedding and not when we were planning our divorce. Focus on the fact that you love her and you want the best for her and her future.
posted by jillithd at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


I was totally gung ho about getting a pre-nup until I concluded that it wasn't necessary given our situation (neither of us have major assets so splitting them 50/50 would probably work out well for us). If you're serious about marriage, I'm guessing that you have had some difficult conversations with this woman but maybe if you haven't, this would be one to sneak in there. I worked with someone who said that she knew her husband was going to propose when he started asking her things like, what would they do if they had a child who was born with disabilities. There are plenty of questions like that to talk about before marriage, just try to add this one in. These are conversations about values so they're important to have before becoming engaged. If you want to be sneaky, you can hide it by saying that you were talking about pre-nups with your (MeFi) friends and were wondering what she thought about them.
posted by kat518 at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


for those saying prenups are tacky and what not, you're being naive. if you go into a marriage with a considerable amount of assets, you would be absolutely doing yourself a disservice not to protect them should you end up divorced (god forbid).

OP, i'm in the about the same situation as you where i am with someone with whom marriage has been discussed (he's been married once before—and was cheated on by his wife—and has children from that marriage but i never have). i have about 50% equity in my house, to which i am very attached. i also have a far greater earning potential than he does. he has more savings than i do. we have talked briefly about a prenup. he knows how i feel about my house and also feels strongly that i should have it should we get divorced, and i don't believe myself entitled to his savings. both of us have the same viewpoint about marriage in that, barring things like cheating or abuse, you are in it for life. so we are in agreement and when we do get married, we'll be getting that prenup, even though we don't think it will ever come into play.

have the talk with your partner before you propose. it doesn't have to be some big deal heavy talk and it doesn't have to mean that you think a marriage with her won't work, but you need to get an idea of where she stands on. she could be practical about it as well. or she could be someone who invests more emotional meaning into it. if that is the case, you need to find that out and let her know reasons why you believe you should have a prenup in place before you marry again. let her know your reasons are about practicality and to protect the both of you financially and have nothing to do with your feelings about her or your relationship.
posted by violetk at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


If I were your fiancé, I'd be fine discussing a pre-nup but I'd want to you raise it before popping the question. I wouldn't want you to present as just part of planning our wedding - it's not like deciding on table decorations - I'd rather we discussed this as two adults entering a marriage of equals.

Like Ashley801 this would weigh into my decision. I would be using this as an opportunity to find out more about you and your values around money and relationships.

I'm with Burnmp3s when they say to avoid going in with a pre-conceived idea of what the agreement is going to be.

If I were doing this with you I’d be keen to point out 2 things in the negotiations - an inheritance is not a guaranteed thing (for a start, how long are my parents going to live? Will they use up their nest egg on healthcare? Will they spend ‘my’ inheritance on their three other children first? Do I actually know how their will is constructed? Will I have a massive falling out with them and get written out of the will as my father was written out of his parents’?), and how can I be sure that I won’t leave this marriage worse off than I started especially because I started with so little?

If there is the possibility of children in the relationship, then that would change how I negotiated the pre-nup too. A significant age disparity or education disparity would change things for me as well. I guess I’d want to know that you would behave fairly towards me, acknowledging that we each bring more to the table than our respective finances.
posted by RosiePosie at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


I totally disagree with the people who say post proposal. For some, a prenup is an absolute dealbraker. Some people would prefer staying single to the arduous and some what emotionally draining and expensive process of hiring a lawyer and going through what feels like a mini divorce negotiation before you get married. Can you imagine the yay! we're getting married email to friends and family followed by the humiliating options of (a)rescinding that email or (b) agreeing to a prenup you can't afford and never would have agreed to pre-proposal? Please tell her about this so she can be free to make her own decision without the added pressure of having to send a humiliating email to all her friend and family canceling the wedding if she prefers not to have a prenup.
posted by bananafish at 12:29 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I really think this is a discussion that should be had pre-proposal, like most of the other really difficult topics that are important for couples to discuss. If you don't know where your partner stands on an issue, how do you know if you want/ can spend the rest of your life with them?

In terms of broaching the subject, I really think you could just ask her how she feels about pre-nups in general. Once on the topic, you could direct the conversation to a more personal nature: "how would you feel about a pre-nup if we ever got married?"

For your situation, the important question is: if she is 100% against a pre-nup, would you rather find out before or after you've proposed?
posted by chaiwawa at 12:39 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can you imagine the yay! we're getting married email to friends and family followed by the humiliating options of (a)rescinding that email or (b) agreeing to a prenup you can't afford and never would have agreed to pre-proposal?

I guess I should amend my advice to say that you should only bring it up post-proposal if the pre-nup is not an absolute requirement to the point that you would call off the wedding if she does not agree to one. If it's a total deal breaker for you, then you should definitely figure out if it's a total deal breaker for her before you propose.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


jillithd's point is the one I made to my ex- before we got married, which is that pre-marriage is the best time to work out whats fair, when everyone is in a good and generous mood. Thats the time you're both likely to consider what the other needs and deserves, etc. During the divorce is the worst time for that.

And if you never get divorced (hopefully!), then it didn't matter anyway!

(In my case we ended up flaking and not getting a legal pre-nup, but since we had discussed the terms that would have been in one, we did both end up sticking to those --- but of course that was just because it was a fairly amicable divorce, in a fighty one I don't think it would have done much good)
posted by wildcrdj at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


find out her feelings about pre-nups pre-proposal. work out the specifics post proposal.

to add to the chorus - i'm a woman, a deeply emotional one at that, and if my husband and i had any assets to split, and especially if the assets were on HIS side, i would have demanded a prenup. to me, i'd have this niggling fear if he had money and i didn't that he was staying with me to keep his money in tact. i don't find worst case scenario planning tacky. i guess i understand why some people do, but marriage isn't just roses and sunday morning kissing, it's also having the hard conversations and business partnership type decisions.

as for the concerns raised about lawyers and money - i'd assume with half a million in assets you have a lawyer or at least access to one without much trouble and that since you're the one with the current assets, you'd pay for the process...
posted by nadawi at 1:00 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I think I might go against the tide here and throw out another perspective to be considered.

I'm divorced (happily remarried now.) After my, divorce I relocated to a city where lots of people have lots of money. I dated men who were more established in their careers and had many more assets than I did while we were dating. I definitely had the opportunity to ponder this pre-nup question from your girlfriend's side before meeting Mr. Jbenben and settling down.

I would not have been surprised if any one of these men had proposed marriage and then proposed a pre-nup. And I would have gone into the resulting marriage with the attitude it would probably end in divorce, just like my first marriage.

---

Luckily, that's not what happened. When I met my husband, I 300% knew (based on my experience with marriage, divorce, and other serious relationships) that Mr. Jbenben was playing from a totally different rule book. Should we ever decide to part ways, we would handle it fairly. OP, like your divorce, my divorce didn't go so badly without a pre-nup because my ex wasn't a bad person - just not the guy for me. Meanwhile, the plain fact is that Mr. Jbenben has ten times the amount of character that my ex ever had, so really, it's all fine. I'm older, wiser, and I've chosen a great person to marry. Pre-nup not necessary.

---

I think you are wise to ponder this question.

If you are worried about how your intended might behave in the unfortunate event of a divorce, then you currently don't fully trust or know yourself or her. I'm thinking the main issue is you haven't fully processed your past marriage sufficiently (you were blindsided, after all) and you might not trust your instincts regarding your girlfriend.

If you don't trust your girlfriend to behave admirably towards you in any circumstance, then you shouldn't be contemplating marriage with her. I'm sure that you know this! Therefore, your trepidation concerning the financial entanglements of marriage is all about you trusting your own judgement.

If you want to bring this up with your girlfriend, you should approach it from the perspective I outlined above. I agree with A Terrible Llama that under the circumstances, your girlfriend will be compassionate towards you given your history when you bring this up. You should do this before proposing.

In the end, if you really really need that contract to feel secure, than I suggest you are not ready for the commitment.

When it is the right person and your are totally ready to be married, a conversation about this sort of thing is a blip on the radar, easy to discuss, and you'll both be of the same mind regarding how to handle the financial details of a possible divorce because your core values will be in-line with each other.

---

Go ahead and ponder this issue with your girlfriend right now. You'll know soon enough if she is the one for you and if you are ready to be married again.
posted by jbenben at 1:11 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


When you discuss it, I think you should explicitly link this request to your scars from your previous divorce. "I know this is irrational, in fact I'm certain we'll never use it, but it would just make me feel better," is the kind of thing you want to say in this situation.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:13 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're in a state where the law would otherwise provide for 50/50 split of everything, regardless of when/where/how acquired.

IAAL, IANYL. I understand your reluctance to be specific about what state you live in. I notice that you have tagged this question with 'Community Property.' If you are indeed in a Community Property state, you should make sure that your understanding of the law in your jurisdiction is accurate. I can tell you that in the Community Property state in which I live and practice, (California) that is not how Community Property works.

To answer your question, I'd suss out her view on pre-nups well before proposing. If it's a dealbreaker, you'd want to establish that early on.

I've been divorced, also due to infidelity on my ex's part. Fast forward, and about four months into dating a new guy, the subject of prenups came up. My new guy said "I'd never get married without one" and I said "I'd never sign one." He asked why, and I explained that on a gut level, to me, a prenup seems like planning to fail. I've been divorced once, and never want to get divorced again. Everyone I know who got a prenup eventually got divorced. Divorce is painful and messy and to be avoided if possible, and I'm not interested in entering a partnership where failure is made less messy.

We've been married for five and a half years now.

posted by ambrosia at 1:25 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think considering the trust issues involved with your past marriage, you bringing this up isn't going to sound totally crazy or un-trusting. You can see by the responses here that some people find them really distasteful and I think it's the sort of thing you should sort before a romantic proposal gesture.

That said, and as a data point, my father always found pre-nups distasteful but that was partly because he couldn't really fathom the idea of divorce. His second divorce just became final today and his wife of ten years [they were married after they were both retired and she moved into the house he had previously purchased, she left a year and a half ago, their lawyers have been fighting since then, lawyers he has been paying for] is walking away with 30% of everything despite bringing no assets at all to the marriage. I have mixed feelings about the state of divorce laws generally, but it's worth keeping in mind that if you have unequal assets in whatever ways, this sort of thing can protect both of you, as you outline, and is worth discussing it in those sorts of terms.
posted by jessamyn at 1:27 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Have you discussed whether you intend to share finances in the future? I would frame it as just another aspect of planning your life together. (And part of "planning together" is being open to there being a variety of ways to meet your need for security. Don't assume your idea is the only possible "fair" way.)

I've talked about prenups with an SO, as have friends. I'd be shocked if your intended didn't see this conversation coming.
posted by momus_window at 1:27 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry for the lengthy answer, OP! Ambrosia hit on my point much more succinctly.

I wanted to add this for your consideration:

I was told many many moons ago by a great attorney and friend that any contract is only as good as the people signing pen to paper. I've never experienced this to be false. Ever.

This little chestnut was the basis of my lengthy answer above. I was thinking all the way through that between a pre-nup agreement and a marriage agreement, the marriage agreement plus the integrity of the individuals entering into the marriage is consideration #1.

Wish I had stated this in the beginning.
posted by jbenben at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you are worried about how your intended might behave in the unfortunate event of a divorce, then you currently don't fully trust or know yourself or her. I'm thinking the main issue is you haven't fully processed your past marriage sufficiently (you were blindsided, after all) and you might not trust your instincts regarding your girlfriend.

If you don't trust your girlfriend to behave admirably towards you in any circumstance, then you shouldn't be contemplating marriage with her. I'm sure that you know this! Therefore, your trepidation concerning the financial entanglements of marriage is all about you trusting your own judgement.

...

In the end, if you really really need that contract to feel secure, than I suggest you are not ready for the commitment.


Although I understand the sentiment behind this advice, I would point out that it's not always a matter of trusting your partner, but also trusting that (in the case of a divorce), any lawyers involved and applicable laws in your jurisdiction will decide things fairly. $450,000 is not an insignificant amount of money, and although marriage is obviously more than a financial agreement, it has a big impact on how that money will be treated. So it makes sense to me at least to think about what to do with the money, even if the agreement you reach in the end is to split it 50/50. In an analogous case you could, instead of writing a will to decide on how your property if you die unexpectedly, trust your relatives to divide it fairly, but it's better to plan for the worst in my opinion. So I don't think wanting to write up a legally binding document amounts to not being ready for commitment.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:21 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


In the end, if you really really need that contract to feel secure, than I suggest you are not ready for the commitment.

I don't know if I agree with the people who are saying things like this, that a prenup is asking for a divorce somehow or that it means you shouldn't get married at all.

Obviously you thought you knew your ex, OP, but then your ex went and did something out of character, as you said. Of course in a good marriage, constant communication will keep you in tune with your partner and changes to their life and character so that sort of surprise doesn't happen, but that is alot of work and even honest, thoughtful, well-intentioned people can fail and then be blind sided when the situation changes. Pretty much all you CAN count on when you sign up to be with someone for the rest of their life is that something about them will change. If everything's rosy you roll with the change and grow together. That is a big if, not one I would bet my life savings on no matter how much I loved someone.

If I were on the receiving end of this, I would like to hear something along the lines of "this doesn't mean I don't love you or I'm not fully committed, all it means is that we are going to both go into this with every intention of being good to each other and doing the work to grow together, but that if something changes, we will honor our original intention that we are putting down on paper now to continue to do right by each other even if the marriage doesn't work."
posted by slow graffiti at 2:30 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you are worried about how your intended might behave in the unfortunate event of a divorce, then you currently don't fully trust or know yourself or her. I'm thinking the main issue is you haven't fully processed your past marriage sufficiently (you were blindsided, after all) and you might not trust your instincts regarding your girlfriend.

If you don't trust your girlfriend to behave admirably towards you in any circumstance, then you shouldn't be contemplating marriage with her. I'm sure that you know this! Therefore, your trepidation concerning the financial entanglements of marriage is all about you trusting your own judgement.

...

In the end, if you really really need that contract to feel secure, than I suggest you are not ready for the commitment.




i find this incredibly condescending. having a prenup in place does not have to mean that one doesn't know or trust oneself or one's partner. it does not have to mean that one is not ready to be for commitment. what it does mean is that one is smart enough to know that one can never predict what will happen.
posted by violetk at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


Marriage -- or any kind of meaningful commitment, really -- sometimes requires consideration and discussion of awkward or difficult subjects. Financial planning is one of them, and the consideration of a prenuptial agreement is one of the things involved when marriage is on the table.

There are many reasons why prenuptials might make sense, and some would argue that residing in a community property state (i.e., where divorce law stipulates a 50-50 split of marital property) requires at least discussing one.
posted by cool breeze at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2010


I would also make an analogy to a living will here. Say you are in a hospital, delirious with some disease and near death and incapable of rationally deciding things about your own care. That's what a living will is for, so someone can make the decisions for you based on what you wrote down when you were still lucid and healthy.

The marriage is the person here, and when the marriage gets sick, you can try to make it better but at some point you might not be able to come to rational agreements as a couple. The prenup reflects your thinking from a healthy time when you were a team.
posted by slow graffiti at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, everyone--this has been a very helpful thread, and it's given me a lot to think about. Burnmp3s (and others), you're totally right that I should not be coming to this with a package deal in mind--it definitely needs to be a conversation, and one that I think I'll be bringing up before the official proposal (though she knows I'm proposing).

I don't view having a pre-nup as a deal breaker, and I don't think she will view not having one as a deal breaker, either. I expect that there's some arrangement we can agree on. In the circumstances, I don't think she will view this as a "get out of marriage free" card, given the debacle that was my first marriage.
posted by myaskme at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2010


[folks, this is not the place for your divorce stories, please keep your answers in the "assist the OP" realm, feel free to MeMail other commenters to have side discussions with them, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:44 PM on December 14, 2010


Just chiming in a bit late to encourage your thoughts about discussing this pre-preposal. Aside from the fact that it would be awful to accept & announce, then unaccept, the proposal... this is just something the two of you should discuss before making a big decision like agreeing to marry.
posted by asciident at 3:54 PM on December 14, 2010


I would absolutely discuss it pre proposal. I would feel totally blindsided if someone brought this up after I'd accepted their proposal.
posted by whoaali at 5:15 PM on December 14, 2010


Absolutely discuss pre-proposal. Ten years ago I remarried, to a man who -- like me -- had been through an awful divorce he would have given anything to avoid. We both had nearly grown children. After long discussions, we decided that when we married, we would put everything together -- our money, possessions, and our future -- with no prenup. We would consider each of our children "ours" -- no division of any part of our life into yours and mine, permanently. We believed then (and now) that if we didn't trust each other to that extent, we didn't trust each other enough to be married. We had our previous wedding rings melted new rings for each of us as a symbol that we were committing everything -- including our past experiences -- to each other. Still makes me tingle to think of it -- it's tough to trust again to that extent, but it was the best decision I ever made. The marriage is solid and everything I'd ever hoped marriage could be. My best wishes for the same for the two of you --
posted by northernlightgardener at 8:52 PM on December 14, 2010


Can you discuss it hypothetically just to feel things out, pre-proposal? Just wait for a news story about a notable pre-nup, or a friend's pre-nup, and comment on it in a casual way that brings up the subject of pre-nups in general. That way you can get a sense of how she feels, and it may even open the door to an actual conversation about your real-world situation.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:52 AM on December 15, 2010


In the end, if you really really need that contract to feel secure, than I suggest you are not ready for the commitment.

If one really doesn't need a "contract to feel secure," then why get married at all, since marriage is a contract? And it's a contract with terms set by the government, including how it will be dissolved in case of divorce. A pre-nup just allows you to add additional or different terms to the contract instead of agreeing to what the state wants.

Anyway, the real problem with pre-nups is that they usually end up being unfair to women. Women usually come into the marriage with fewer assets and lower paying jobs, especially in the situation where a younger woman is marrying an older, divorced man who is motivated to get a prenup. Then the couple compounds the inequality when the wife invest her labor in the marriage and family, instead of working outside the home to her full earning capacity. (This is the classic situation, "Oh, we both have good jobs but he earns so much more than I do; I'll just stay home with the kids because it doesn't make sense on my salary to work outside the home and pay for childcare. Has nothing to do with gender rolls -- I just earn less.") Then divorce comes, and boom -- because of a prenup the wife doesn't get the full measure back of what she's actually contributed to the partnership.
posted by yarly at 7:10 AM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


So I guess my specific advice to the OP is... make sure that the goal of your prenup isn't just to protect your pre-existing assets, but also to ensure that your wife's contributions to the partnership are properly valued. For example, if she decides to scale down her work to take care of kids, maybe you scale up your contributions to her 401K. If kids aren't an issue, then talk about how you as a couple are going to work on funding your retirements. In fact, you might be able to broaden this to a discussion about work and money in general, which would be much more positive and happy-making than talking about only the prenup.
posted by yarly at 7:15 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry to be spamming this thread, but I just found this really helpful article on prenups. The writer generally doesn't like prenups for reasons that may or may not apply to your situation, but she makes the very good point that you should use a neutral mediator (or collaboratively trained lawyers) to do the prenup so it's less adversarial. I think that would be a particularly good solution for you, since you both have interests you want to protect (nest egg and inheritance) rather than there being a big power imbalance.
posted by yarly at 7:23 AM on December 15, 2010


I think the sentiment that "now is the time to decide things fairly" is misguided, though not wholly wrong.

The problem is that you cannot predict the future, and that your assets and her potential assets are going to be the basis for financial decision-making for both of you for the duration of your marriage. You're essentially proposing to introduce a factor -- "we as a couple have $450,000 in assets" -- which will shape choices for decades, with the idea that, upon divorce, you can just subtract that out as though it had no effect on her choices during the marriage.

What you want to do is make an agreement while you're not angry and hurt, but the problem is, you don't have enough information to make a fair document, because you haven't lived those years with your partner yet.

Before I got married, when my partner and I had no particular assets and he made several times what I did, I thought pre-nups were logical and sensible things. Having gone through several financial rotations in our marriage, I now can't imagine one that would have made sense then and still make sense now.

Consider pre-nups which mitigate the process of divorce, rather than deciding the outcome. Can you commit to going through arbitration rather than the courts as a first step?

Also, pre-nups apply to what happens if one of you dies, as well. You might want to incorporate any conversation about legalities with a conversation about wills.

If you have children from your previous marriage, you WILL want to discuss financial planning with your intended, and get your documents all prepared.

I tend to be highly in favor of written contracts, whether or not they're legally binding, so that both parties can understand exactly what the other party means. But please remember that you're not a fortune teller, and that what seems fair today may not seem fair 20 years from now.
posted by endless_forms at 7:28 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older What kind of job could I, a fr...   |  Did I get forwarded a letter f... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.