Post-nup situation
February 13, 2018 11:10 AM   Subscribe

My spouse and I have been married for a year and they have recently said to me that they would like us to sign a post-nup because of the disparity between our financial situations.

My spouse owns an apartment which is rented out and provides most of my spouse's income. They also have a low income from freelance work in a creative sector which is hard to get well paid work in. I have approx 30k in savings from an inheritance and a job paying an average salary.

We are about to move into an expensive new home which will be fully paid for from a recent inheritance on spouse's side. We feel incredibly lucky and excited about this but I was surprised and upset when spouse came to me about the post-nup. Spouse says they no longer wish me to invest my 30k in the home we are moving into as this will 'confuse' things. This, plus other things said by spouse at the time, leads me to believe that, in the case of a divorce, spouse would expect to keep 100% of new house as well as the previously owned apartment. Spouse says we need to look into investment opportunities for my 30k so I can make the most of it and have my own separate savings.

I'm really upset by all of this "what's mine is mine and yours is yours" talk. I know it's easy for the person with the least assets to say, but I feel like being married should mean being a team, and none of this feels like team talk. I'm also worried that my disagreeing with spouse's expectations will come across as gold-digging or money-grabbing, but I feel like I need to stand up for myself as spouse's scenario would potentially leave me in a dire situation should we divorce say 20 years down the line. I don't want to have to be putting away savings into a potential divorce fund while we are meant to be happily living our lives together.

I know that I don't have to sign or agree to anything I don't want to. However I really don't want this to come between us and for it to be such a big issue for us so soon into our marriage. I am inevitably picturing various divorce scenarios and this too really isn't helping me to feel on the same team as my spouse.

Other info - we are hoping to have a family at some point and it's likely that I would be the stay at home parent. This is another source of worry for me as the lack of earnings while caring for a family wouldn't leave me in a good financial position. In terms of current expenses, we split everything equally and plan to split expenses (bills etc) in the new home equally too.

I will obviously need to talk again to spouse soon but it's such an emotive subject for me I would like to get opinions and experiences from others before we talk about it again.

Questions:
- How can I make spouse see that this 100%-belongs-to-spouse agreement leaves me very vulnerable, without coming across as money-grabbing?
- How do pre-nups/post-nups tend to be quantified? I have no experience in this at all.
- Has anyone had experience of getting a partner to come around to more of a 'team' mentality when it comes to finances or is this something that's unlikely to change?

I love my spouse very much and want us to be together for the rest of our lives. I have absolutely no idea how to approach this.
posted by rrose selavy to Human Relations (83 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow. If I were you I'd be speaking with a divorce attorney, and at MINIMUM demanding couple's counseling before you move into this house.
posted by mynameisluka at 11:19 AM on February 13, 2018 [92 favorites]


I am no kind of expert, but you seem to have very reasonably laid out here why you are uncomfortable with a post-nup. I think these are the points you can lay out in your conversation with your spouse. A possible compromise you could make is that the post-nup ceases to apply after X number of years of marriage?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:20 AM on February 13, 2018 [8 favorites]


1. talk to a family attorney by yourself, asap, to get clear on what the ramifications of this would actually be. I don't know your jurisdiction and wouldn't offer you legal advice anyway, but in mine, just because only one spouse's savings paid for the marital home down payment would not necessarily mean that the other spouse didn't have an interest in it in the event of divorce. And enforceability is always a question.

2. you need a couple's counselor stat. After you've understood what he's asking you to sign, after you've understood whether it'd be enforceable or not, THEN I think a couple's counselor is in order to help you guys communicate. Something is going on here. Is it spouse's anxiety? Is their family pushing them behind the scenes? Do they have one foot out the door? Are they worried about your spending? Find out.

3. If spouse feels like their family inheritance should be in a form that couldn't ever leave their family in the event of a divorce (understandable, I think) then perhaps some part of it gets put into trust for your future children's education, instead of into a marital home. (This sort of thing is why I'm saying you need to dig into where the anxiety is coming from; if it's something you're sympathetic to, then surely you can work together to fashion a solution.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:26 AM on February 13, 2018 [42 favorites]


One thing to consider is whether such an agreement is even enforceable in your jurisdiction. Post-nuptial agreements are in general permitted in the U.S., but you'd be unilaterally reducing your rights in a divorce, and that may be considered unjust or unconscionable. IANAL, but I'd definitely talk to one before signing anything. And if turns out to be definitely not an enforceable provision, that may help convince your spouse to drop the issue.

Also, as fingersandtoes alludes to, you may not have full interest in the property to begin with. In the U.S. legal system it will depend on whether your state is a community property state or not, and whether you are on the deed.
posted by serathen at 11:27 AM on February 13, 2018


Please insist on seeing a couple's counselor. The concern you have that you'll sound like you're gold-digging makes it clear that you could both benefit from a professional trained in fostering healthy communication. Here is maybe a way to phrase it: "I find myself having a lot of emotions about this, and I don't know what to think or how to communicate what I'm feeling. I'd like us to see a counselor, so we can work through this, before we move."

Your concerns are valid. I don't understand what your spouse's concerns are, so I'm not in a position to say whether they are valid, too.
posted by meese at 11:27 AM on February 13, 2018 [21 favorites]


Wow. At the very least, this represents a profound conflict in you and your spouse's understanding of the meaning of your marriage. (Did you have discussions about finance before marriage?)

At worst, it's a serious disregard for your future well-being. I would hope "thoughtless," but potentially "incredibly selfish and suspicious of his own wife."

You need to talk to a counselor stat to see if this just represents differing expectations, which can hopefully be adjusted and compromised, or if he really wants to protect himself from his potentially gold-digging spouse.
posted by praemunire at 11:27 AM on February 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


Spouse seems to be thinking that the only value either of you brings is financial. That's a problem.
posted by amtho at 11:29 AM on February 13, 2018 [43 favorites]


The Asker was careful to avoid gendered terms in this question, so I don't think it is wise to make assumptions in that area.

I don't think your spouse's position is unreasonable here, but I also appreciate that this is an unpleasant thing to be thinking about in a happy marriage, and that their suggestion potentially leaves you financially vulnerable. I think it would be wise to tell them that this is causing some emotional turmoil, and that you would feel better if this decision was part of a more general "how are we going to financially structure our marriage" discussion with a neutral financial professional.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:33 AM on February 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


This is not the marriage for you. Don't proceed with the purchase of the house.

It's early days on this marriage. Your spouse just told you they don't value you or think of you as a team. The toothpaste will not go back in the tube on this one...

Do you really want to participate in this? Sign up your future children for this?
posted by jbenben at 11:35 AM on February 13, 2018 [39 favorites]


In my mind, a post nup is something that's completed before marriage so you both can enter the contact of marriage knowing exactly the consequences for breaking it and any advantage or disadvantages.

Doing one now seems disingenuous to me.

It's changing the terms of the marriage after you agreed to it.

I would be really upset if my partner asked this. I really suggest you sit down and talk with a therapist of some kind.

This also sets up my red flags of that he may be looking for a way out.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:36 AM on February 13, 2018 [31 favorites]


I would urge you to not jump to some of the negative conclusions some people are pushing you to, here. Money that comes by inheritance can reasonably be seen as something that one's parents earned, and that ought to be considered "off the table" in the event of a split. It doesn't necessarily mean your spouse doesn't love you, or thinks you're gold digging. It might just mean they are mindful that things sometimes fall apart in unexpected ways and that their parents would want their hard won assets to stay with their descendants.

Make sure you find out what's really going on.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:37 AM on February 13, 2018 [49 favorites]


Asker, I know this is a rough situation to be in, and I can't imagine how I would feel in your position, but I just want to expand on my previous answer by pointing out that happy marriages can have very different financial structures. My wife and I have intertwined finances to an extreme point, but other couples keep separate accounts and make individual investment and retirement decisions, and are still very much in love. Sure, it might have been better to get all this out in the open while you were engaged, but there is no reason to think that this is any sort of underhanded or devious behavior on your spouse's part.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:42 AM on February 13, 2018 [8 favorites]


They also have a low income from freelance work in a creative sector which is hard to get well paid work in. I have approx 30k in savings from an inheritance and a job paying an average salary.

This stood out to me right away. Some creative special snowflakes (not all by any means) are completely uninterested in working for money, and want others to fund them so they can do their art, which may or may not be a dubious proposition. I have a relative who does this, and is constantly trying to convince their family members that they should give them money so that they can continue to be creative, or something. It's possible that your spouse wants to arrange things so that they get all the money in order to not have to work, and you get nothing. Watch your back, and don't let your guard down for a minute.
posted by Melismata at 11:43 AM on February 13, 2018 [25 favorites]


If you're a woman, you should know that when we talk about poverty in the United States, we are generally talking about women — often divorced women, and even more often divorced women with kids. So I would beware of being pressured into any sort of post-nup agreement because you're afraid of being perceived as a gold-digger.

I would agree with others that your spouse's reasoning is paramount here, but so is talking to a couples counselor and — independently and probably privately — a lawyer, so you have some sense of what this might mean.
posted by Violet Blue at 11:44 AM on February 13, 2018 [36 favorites]


This is a big giant red flag that your spouse is not operating as a team with you and I agree that it's really serious.

Not just because there seems to be some reluctance to share the inheritance* but also because the first step wasn't a discussion about that, but about needing to divorce your financial assets right now, including a home that will hopefully appreciate in value.

So either this is a colossal, huge communication error or something pretty fundamentally not okay. At least in my marriage.

Other info - we are hoping to have a family at some point and it's likely that I would be the stay at home parent.

Don't do this unless this post-nup situation has been very, very sorted out to your complete satisfaction.

* I personally stand to inherit a good chunk if my parents don't blow through a fairly large pool of wealth, which came partly from their parents. My husband is unlikely to inherit much if anything. It would not occur to me to try to keep my husband from half of 'mine' because he is my family. That said, I know not everyone thinks like me, but at the very least, I would expect a discussion, not a kind of "here's what you have to do, sign here" approach, if that's what's going on.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:46 AM on February 13, 2018 [33 favorites]


Other info - we are hoping to have a family at some point and it's likely that I would be the stay at home parent.

Do not do this until and unless you are really, REALLY sure that a) you would be financially fine in the event of a split even ten years down the line, and b) your spouse can 100% assure you that this is not a way for them to keep one foot out of the door.
posted by Catseye at 11:46 AM on February 13, 2018 [18 favorites]


Schedule a consultation immediately with a local family law attorney in your jurisdiction, before signing anything, before buying a home, before anyone getting pregnant, and even before going to couples counseling.

Asking you, the putative future economically-dependent partner, to sign a post-nup after a year of being married is a huge red flag. It’s something abusers do when they are about to escalate.

Understand that post-nups are usually, but not always, setting you up for eventual separation and divorce. Plan accordingly.
posted by edithkeeler at 11:46 AM on February 13, 2018 [30 favorites]


I think it's possible to see someone as part of a team without wanting to immediately commit to giving them half of an inheritance, especially if sketchy income means this is effectively the inheriting spouse's only retirement fund.

I also think that before you go ANY further with this you need to sit down with your spouse and think through
- when you both plan to retire and how that retirement will be funded
- who will pay for the maintenance on this house, who will be responsible for organising it
- how the maternity leave and the expenses of children will be financed
- how you can fix things so that in the event of a split, both of you (and any potential kids) can be reasonably well provided for.

I think it's possible that you could have this discussion, and come up with a team plan that makes sense without feeling to you like any savings and investments in your name are now a "divorce fund"

Or it's possible that he'll realise that tying up all his capital in the house will prevent him contributing effectively to the family.

Or it's possible that you'll be unable to agree on anything and realise that it's a bust!

If things do change and you end up putting your money in the house, make sure you're really clear on whether you are entitled to 50% of any rise in value or only (say) 10% if that was your stake.
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:49 AM on February 13, 2018 [10 favorites]


Excluding inheritance from marital property is actually a very common thing to do, although of course reasonable people can disagree on whether or not they would want that in their marriage or have it involved in their home.

I agree with the advice to see a couple's counselor, because the way your spouse brought this up to you was terrible (at the very least this is a conversation that should have occurred before the expensive house was purchased).

You also 100% need a lawyer if this conversation continues any further. It's not about making this an adversarial process, it's about having your interests represented fairly in matters of law that you're not an expert on.

The lawyer will also be able to explain to you that there is a huge amount of space on the pre/post-nup spectrum between "everything is equally shared" and "you get absolutely nothing".
posted by lalex at 11:52 AM on February 13, 2018 [15 favorites]


Spouse says they no longer wish me to invest my 30k in the home we are moving into as this will 'confuse' things.

This stood out for me-- they don't want to co-mingle your assets with the inherited money, which might keep you from getting any of it in a divorce. So my guess is they have been thinking about this in some detail.

I really think it's a good idea to go to a financial planner together. And to a lawyer by yourself. I don't think your spouse is necessarily evil. Some people don't think it's strange to go about these things in a legalistic manner; and it's sometimes part of a family's culture to see any change in circumstances as a reason to change your will or draw up a postnup. Your partner may be under pressure from family. But you should have a really serious discussion.
posted by BibiRose at 11:59 AM on February 13, 2018 [23 favorites]


I agree with lalex and quacks like a duck about having a larger discussion here. Inheritance is once thing, but would it not be fair to explicitly grant you the apartment as part of the agreement? And would your inherited $30K also be shielded as part of a post-nup agreement? What about maintenance costs and taxes on both properties; how are those paid for such that it doesn't become co-mingled? (On edit preview, what I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! said.)
posted by serathen at 12:03 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


You pay half the bills? Including half the bills into the house your spouse is excluding you from ownership? When the house needs expensive plumbing repairs, who will pay? What about improvements to the house that increase the value of the house? Will they expect you to pay rent? I agree that keeping inheritance separate is a normal thing (although a thing I wouldn't do in my marriage) but entwining that in your living situation for possibly ever? That seems like a poor idea. And what if y'all want to move and the house has gained value - your spouse will keep the extra and buy the next house once again keeping you from creating that same security for yourself? And you will be the stay at home partner (which is also a curiosity as you have a steady paycheck and they do occasional freelance creative work - i say this as the stay at home partner in my marriage)? Either your spouse hasn't thought about these things or they're taking you for a ride.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:04 PM on February 13, 2018 [73 favorites]


I'm surprised by the negative reactions to spouse's position here. Maybe this is them being ungenerous, but another reading is, as fingersandtoes says, that in their mind their inheritance money is from a relative, a product of a relationship that subsisted before you folks even met, and thus more properly "pre-marital" property than "marital" property. I know this may not be true in legal terms, hence the post-nup, but it does seem at least plausible in psychological terms. If my parents (for instance) scrimped and saved to have something to leave to me, then that money feels more like "theirs" (or "theirs and mine") even after their death. It would indeed seem pretty unfair to think that a spouse could turn around the next week, have an affair/demand a divorce, and walk off with half of what other people had saved for me their whole lives.

Is there a reason why you couldn't just take out a normal mortgage to buy the home, to be paid from your respective incomes and split 50/50 in case of divorce; and let each of you keep the cash inheritance as your separate property?
posted by Bardolph at 12:04 PM on February 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


Lots of good advice above. In addition, you may want to see a financial planner and get some future cash flow estimates done. Buying a nice house with an inheritance a staying at home on Partner's freelance income plus a bit of rent sounds like a red flag too. Is this actually be feasible? Is your staying home your idea, or partner's?

One issue you may run into is a cash flow problem down the road. Then you use your savings on living expenses to keep the family afloat. In a divorce, the postnup deprives you of an interest in the home even though you depleted your savings to keep the family fed. Given the insecurity of the family's future income streams, I see this as quite likely at some point.
posted by thenormshow at 12:04 PM on February 13, 2018 [24 favorites]


I get that people have different ideas about inheritance and "family money" in relationships. But this question isn't just about that. There's a lot of other toxic stuff here, particularly this:

we are hoping to have a family at some point and it's likely that I would be the stay at home parent

DO NOT do this. Not with this person. You are the only employed person in the relationship and the only person who needs to make money for retirement since your spouse won't share; if having a SAHP is important for your family, then they need to do it. If you do eventually get divorced, are you and the kids out on the street while spouse lives in your expensive house? Nah. A person like this -- who doesn't work, doesn't want to commingle finances or plan for a future together, and wants you to be the one doing most of the parenting -- doesn't sound very generous, and I can't imagine they're likely to be more generous in a divorce.

If you're going to be a stay-at-home parent, you get half of the stuff. Full stop. If your spouse worked, you could make an arrangement where the inheritance was separate and you'd eventually leave with half of what you'd both earned since your marriage, but that's not your situation. The fact that your partner doesn't work changes the equation here a lot, and you deserve better than what they're offering.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:10 PM on February 13, 2018 [114 favorites]


I just want to chime in with a viewpoint that differs from the emerging consensus here.

I'm not married, but have been with my boyfriend for about a year and have definitely thought about this issue a lot. There is a pretty serious discrepancy in our income and wealth. He comes from a very financially comfortable background, has significant savings and investments, and has no debt. My own situation is dramatically more modest. We are the same age and salaries in our chosen professions are fairly comparable, but I will never "catch up" in terms of wealth accumulation.

I would never dream of marrying him without a pre-nup that protected all of his assets in the event of divorce. I love him, not his money. Barring a situation where I became unable to support myself, I would never expect or want him to provide any direct or indirect financial support.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the type of arrangement your husband is talking about doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't love you or is some type of emotionally stunted H. economicus. There are lots of ways to deal with money in a marriage, and none of them are necessarily right of wrong.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:14 PM on February 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


To me it's not about keeping the money separate that throws up the red flags, but having it be in your face every day as you keep up a home that earns your spouse money.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:19 PM on February 13, 2018 [54 favorites]


This spouse seems to be thinking that you won’t be together in X amiunt of years. With that in mind, putting the financial stuff aside, I would make sure to not have children with this person.
posted by blueberry at 12:24 PM on February 13, 2018 [17 favorites]


I'm really upset by all of this "what's mine is mine and yours is yours" talk. I know it's easy for the person with the least assets to say, but I feel like being married should mean being a team, and none of this feels like team talk.

I know some people are fine with a situation like this, but it sounds like you are not. When my partner and I were first together, I made more money than they did and we paid for things 50/50. Things got uncomfortable for me very fast - neither of us were doing especially well, so it was noticeable that my quality of life was better. We refigured our finances so that I paid more rent, allowing partner to pay down their student loans faster and have a little extra cash. Changing our thinking on this really changed our relationship - we became more comfortable talking about other issues, we were planning ahead as a couple rather than individually, etc. It's totally understandable and reasonable for you to want that. I think others here are right that a counselor will help you get closer to understanding what your partner is looking for with this post-nup and if you can make this relationship work now that you have new information about it.

I wish you the best!
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:37 PM on February 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. People's views differ and that's ok; please don't open up a back-and-forth with other commenters, just give your helpful constructive suggestion and trust OP to use their judgment.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Could the wishes of Spouse's family members be playing a part here? I have a family member who has accumulated some wealth (not life changing but certainly more than I would ever obtain on my own) who had expressed concern that money left to me could be taken from me by spouse in case of a divorce. It was never decided as she is thankfully still alive and my spouse and I are divorcing.
posted by crankylex at 12:53 PM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm with crankylex on this-- it sounds like your spouse is getting some bad advice, possibly from someone who doesn't like you and is either merely willing or actively working to chisel you out of your spouse's life.

This is someone who is moving to prevent you from ever owning, in any sense, half of the inheritance. Likely a strong-willed family member who is a close relation of the person who passed away. Possibly someone who feels entitled to the money themselves, but isn't willing to begrudge your spouse.

Couple's counseling is a good way to go here, but I think you can start with a candid chat with your spouse about who is trying to keep you from owning half the house and why it'd be a bad thing if you did. Your spouse is taking advice from someone who has had a lot longer to get to know spouse and figure out how to push their buttons, not to mention any familiar leverage they have that you can't have established yet. Your spouse may not realize that by following that person's advice, they are potentially putting your brand new marriage on the line, but that's something you need to communicate to spouse, tout de suite.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:58 PM on February 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


Is your spouse getting legal advice or did they just come up with this on their own or are their parents nagging them or what...?

The biggest issue here is that you will, almost certainly, be contributing substantial value to the maintenance and upkeep of this home. Excluding you from an ownership interest in your own home, regardless of how it's accomplished, is kinda shitty and, as far as I know, it may not even be necessary in terms of preserving the inheritance.

You should get legal advice, which should be via a good attorney, who is not your spouse's attorney, and who is paid for by your spouse. Your spouse should get legal advice as well, if they haven't already, and then see if they still feel the same way.

Once you see the legal implications, and know that your spouse knows what those implications are for both of you, you will understand what meaning this action has.

As far as I know --- and I am not a lawyer --- there are other ways to keep the bulk of the inheritance from being comingled, which would also continue to provide you with an ongoing and increasing interest in the home over time. For example, a mortgage, while expensive, would mean that you could both pay equity into the home over a certain period of time, keeping the non-equitized portion of the inheritance from being comingled with community property. As you give up income (as you would, for example, by staying at home) the portion of the equity paid from the inheritance can be increased.

More emotionally, this person is perfectly happy to take your contributions (reproductive labor) and "comingle" them with theirs, to their benefit. Your time and work for childcare --- community property. If you're birthing, your body and your health --- community property. But an inheritance, which they receive for existing, is an electric fence which must repel all gold-diggers? Ok.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:03 PM on February 13, 2018 [20 favorites]


Or, tl;dr, this person is behaving like a reproductive labor-digger, meaning they want to exploit your resources for their selfish benefit. The fact that there's no catchy pop-culture phrase for that behavior doesn't mean it's okay.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:06 PM on February 13, 2018 [33 favorites]


One thing is that the post-nup should certainly have a clause changing things significantly once you have a child, including provisions for both alimony and child support. You can't make back years out of the workforce -- not just the money you would have earned then, or the retirement funds you would have contributed to, but also the experience and the raises. If your husband does not find these concerns -- reasonable, non gold digging concerns -- compelling, I would be concerned: if he does, less worried.

I also would be very concerned about your putting in any money to repairs, maintenance, upgrades or taxes for the house (as indeed would your spouse be: something bought with an inheritance is probably not marital property unless you start commingling funds). If it's not your home, you shouldn't be paying the expenses on it.
posted by jeather at 1:10 PM on February 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


My husband and I just went through creating an estate for our son. Some people are claiming that excluding inheritance from marital property is a common thing to do and I am wondering whether they are speaking from personal experience or just repeating something they saw on a TV show once, so to speak. I have addressed this specific issue with our lawyer (USA) and here is what I understand: it is not possible to structure an inheritance in such a way as to create, in essence, a prenup. Two adults may enter into a prenup/postnup agreement with each other but the person leaving an inheritance to one of those adults does not have any legal influence in this regard. If the inheritance is big enough as to enable the husband to buy an "expensive new home which will be fully paid" then I assume there was some legal work done in order to receive said inheritance. I can't imagine their legal advice would be very different from ours so the person who left the inheritance knew full well that they don't have much say in what the adult husband does with it.

What I am saying here is, what you want to do is up to you (personally, I'd be very, VERY upset) but please don't fall into the psychological trap where you pretend that your husband is merely acting out the will of a deceased relative so you don't have to deal with the reality of the situation. His request (decision?) to exclude you from his sudden good fortune is squarely on him.

I also think it's ridiculous to pretend that this is somehow a gender-neutral issue. Gold-digging, the term used in the question, is a female-specific term but there is no equivalent male-specific term for age-digging, even though the latter is done a heck of lot more frequently than the former. More specific to the question, if the husband wants to protect his money, the wife is entitled to protect her youth. So I say the truly equitable post-nup here would be: in case of a divorce, the husband is entitled to keep everything he and he alone owns and the wife is entitled to receive half of everything he owns since he's used up her best child-bearing years.

Lastly, if gold-digging is defined as going after someone else's money, isn't that exactly what your husband is doing? Don't get me wrong, I get it that the inheritor wanted the money to go to someone they care about, but are you, the wife, not someone the husband cares about?
posted by rada at 1:11 PM on February 13, 2018 [53 favorites]


I have a feeling that someone has been advising your spouse. Normally I feel it's ok that each partner have their own money. The red flag is that your partner doesn't work but you'll be expected to stay home with the kids. They just sound like someone who is more committed to living a certain lifestyle than being in a relationship.
posted by mokeydraws at 1:14 PM on February 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


I also would be very concerned about your putting in any money to repairs, maintenance, upgrades or taxes for the house (as indeed would your spouse be: something bought with an inheritance is probably not marital property unless you start commingling funds). If it's not your home, you shouldn't be paying the expenses on it.

Right, and this is the reason why this is kind of a crazy and inhumane thing to do. Are you supposed to sit there and refuse to fix a clogged sink because it's not "your" house? Are you expected to let other repairs lapse? Not remodel even if necessary, and if it would improve your kids' lives? I'm sure you don't want to think like that when you're married, but in this scenario, your spouse would be taking advantage of that impulse to gain the value of your labor without giving anything back.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:21 PM on February 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Some people are claiming that excluding inheritance from marital property is a common thing to do and I am wondering whether they are speaking from personal experience or just repeating something they saw on a TV show once, so to speak.

Not a lawyer, but what they might mean is that inheritances do not automatically become the property of the joint marital estate in the same way that, say, income from work automatically becomes part of the marital estate (in some states). That is different from whether or not a will can limit the use of inherited property, which it generally cannot (barring the creation of a testamentary trust).

The complexity of these issues, which vary by state, make it clear that a lawyer is necessary just to get your bearings, OP. Please find one.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:24 PM on February 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


(Singular they is a good, easy, quick substitution for he or she and is also a valid way to reference genders that aren't he or she, should someone want to use pronouns while still respecting the obvious non-gendering in the question)
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2018 [15 favorites]


OP, I have been reading other answers and thinking some more. This line:

spouse would expect to keep 100% of new house as well as the previously owned apartment

really to me shows that it's not just about the inheritance. So I redouble my position that this is really serious and add that you do need expert advice.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:28 PM on February 13, 2018 [21 favorites]


What your spouse is proposing is not okay. But I'd also suggest you to give them a wide berth for fucking this up. Inheritances are hard. And depending on how recent this inheritance is, I would strongly advise against making a large purchase like a fancy home so early.

You miss the person, the house becomes the person, the thought of losing half the house because your marriage fails is unbearable. And since loss is so close to your mindset, even a strong marriage might seem like just another thing to lose.

Your spouse is not thinking clearly. I'd advise grief counseling and couples counseling so that you don't have to be the bad guy in making sure that their possessive feelings about this money don't become a way to exploit the family member taking on the unpaid domestic duties in the household.

*also, in Texas, inheritances are very clearly not community property. My grandfather has screwed my grandmother royally by using a family inheritance to fund their retirement, and spend all the community money during her earning years.
posted by politikitty at 1:30 PM on February 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


I will obviously need to talk again to spouse soon
Nah, what you need to do is talk to a lawyer, ASAP, because I’m truly sorry, but this:

Spouse says they no longer wish me to invest my 30k in the home we are moving into as this will 'confuse' things.

...along with other stuff in your post makes it pretty clear that your spouse is either planning on divorcing you, or is cheating and is worried about you catching them at it and then divorcing them.

Protect yourself.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:40 PM on February 13, 2018 [19 favorites]


I think it's one thing to keep inheritance separate. It's not something I would do, but I can understand. It's another thing when that inheritance turns into your shared home and you are reliant on that for life. In my view that brings it into supporting your partner by building a home together. It's even another level to just throw this at you after you get married. Did you ever talk about inheritance? Did you ever talk about who pays for what?

Is this now only coming up AFTER it seems you bought the home? Why do they get to make and change rules about it and chance you not having a home if you disagree? Why wasn't it discussed before you bought the house?

Don't have a kid with this person till you sort this out - and possibly leave. I can't imagine the lack of stability by feeling like your home isn't your home and could be held over you heard because if you left the relationship you'd leave your home and more.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:41 PM on February 13, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thank you for all the responses!

As to where the pre-nup issue came from: I have a really good relationship with spouse's family and so it seems that this came out of a recent conversation spouse had with a friend, in which the friend talked about their pre-nup for their forthcoming marriage, and expressed surprise along the lines of "Woah, you don't have a pre-nup? Do you realise X would be entitled to half of everything if you guys split up?" [which I don't even believe to be true]. This clearly scared the crap out of spouse - the child of divorced parents, of which one parent in particular fared very badly out of the divorce, and about which spouse regularly says 'I am terrified of ending up like them'. So I know that part of this comes from this fear, and a strong instinct to protect oneself. I just think that unfortunately this fear is obscuring the fact that I will be left very vulnerable in a pre-nup like the one they seem to be suggesting.
posted by rrose selavy at 1:42 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


you guys have a lot to discuss, including but by no means limited to the non-intuitive idea that the wage-earning spouse should be the one to give up their career to be a SAHP. It sounds like maybe your spouse also has no idea how things work. I reiterate thinking an educational lawyer consult is in order for both of you, separately or together. It'll be a few hundred dollars very well spent.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:53 PM on February 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


I had to relearn family finance after I got married. I was very much a "my money is mine" sort of person, but my husband helped me transition into a much less individualistic point of view and I am a much happier person for it.

I agree that if your husband disregards your concerns, you should reconsider the relationship. However, you need to give him the opportunity to hear you out first. Get your arguments in order (emotional, financial, practical, etc.) and have a clear conversation with him.

Chances are he has never stopped to consider the implications of his perspective. I know I hadn't.

Of course, once you have stated your case, the ball is in his court and if he chooses to insist, you know what to do.
posted by Tarumba at 1:54 PM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


and about which spouse regularly says 'I am terrified of ending up like them'.

But they are not so terrified of you, their spouse and future parent/primary caretaker to their children, ending up like [parent who was left badly post divorce]. You should consider that long and hard. This seems like someone who wants to make sure they're always in the winning position, not someone who makes sure neither of you harm each other in this way.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:56 PM on February 13, 2018 [90 favorites]


This clearly scared the crap out of spouse - the child of divorced parents, of which one parent in particular fared very badly out of the divorce, and about which spouse regularly says 'I am terrified of ending up like them'. So I know that part of this comes from this fear, and a strong instinct to protect oneself.

Well...the thing is, unless the apartment provides significant income (which it may), your spouse has already made the choice to limit their earning potential by chasing their dreams. Which isn't a bad thing! But if the fear is ending up like the divorced parent, is it "hard done by but okay financially" or "in poverty."

Because if it's in poverty, well, your spouse is really not thinking this through...an (apartment + house)/2 probably doesn't = poverty.

What I'm getting is there's a certain tilt to their desires here, a kind of response which doesn't speak to thinking like a team or even looking at things rationally. Let's recap:

- in a divorce your spouse wants EVERYTHING that is currently theirs - the apartment and the inheritance-house - and which form the bulk of your assets right now, or will
- you and your spouse together have decided to limit your earning potential once you have kids
- your spouse pursues their creative dreams, and you have a job
- half is not enough for your spouse

Whether or not this comes from fear, it clearly isn't ending up in a place of equity. I think if your spouse were saying "hey, I'll sign over the apartment and I'll take the house" it would be unfair but there would be some kind of balance. But this is not balanced. It makes me wonder if things are balanced now. Do you split the bills 50/50 based on the apartment+freelance income?
posted by warriorqueen at 2:06 PM on February 13, 2018 [13 favorites]


Do you realise X would be entitled to half of everything if you guys split up?" [which I don't even believe to be true].

In the jurisdiction where I live, if an inheritance is put into the marital home, that becomes community property and is split equally in the case of divorce. Also, a home owned prior to marriage can become community property, too, regardless of the name on the title. I think the advice to speak with a financial planner and a family lawyer is wise. You should each have independent legal advice.

Some people are claiming that excluding inheritance from marital property is a common thing to do and I am wondering whether they are speaking from personal experience or just repeating something they saw on a TV show once, so to speak.

My parents' wills have specific wording to the effect that any money they are leaving us is not to be included in community assets in the case of divorce. It should be part of any financial discussion.
posted by TORunner at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm in favor of pre-nups: they're an important opportunity to communicate your values and how they relate to money, and to be really fucking transparent about your finances, goals, expectations. Plus, why wouldn't you want to make decisions together about how to handle it should you split?

A post-nup, though, feels like you lose a lot of the value of doing this before you're married, and I would totally feel more hurt and confused by doing it at that point.

All that said, it does sound like you have some valuable conversations to have about finances, other resources (including time, money, energy, work), and expectations, regardless of whether it's in pursuit of a post-nup or not.
posted by spindrifter at 2:14 PM on February 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Some people are claiming that excluding inheritance from marital property is a common thing to do and I am wondering whether they are speaking from personal experience or just repeating something they saw on a TV show

I am speaking from personal experience that I won't get into here, but it seems I was not clear that I was saying that excluding inheritance from marital property is a fairly common use of this type of marital agreement. Rock 'em Sock 'em also makes a good point about how the law treats inheritance.

OP needs a lawyer to sort this out and represent their interests, and I want to say again that the options aren't just "everything is split" or "OP gets nothing"; there are a billion different ways these things can be structured that address OP's concerns about building equity in the house, loss of income/career progress during SAH parenting, etc.

Of course none of this means OP should sign anything; I think folks here have given great advice about how to deal with the emotional and marital consequences of this discussion.
posted by lalex at 2:24 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Are you supposed to sit there and refuse to fix a clogged sink because it's not "your" house? Are you expected to let other repairs lapse? Not remodel even if necessary, and if it would improve your kids' lives? I'm sure you don't want to think like that when you're married, but in this scenario, your spouse would be taking advantage of that impulse to gain the value of your labor without giving anything back.

Bearing in mind that I think that this is a bad idea: spouse would need to do all the remodels off their money which they keep separate. This is doable even with just one income, you need to split the money coming into the house into his and hers (fix pronouns as needed), essentially. This means that when spouse spends 10k on remodeling and increasing the value of their asset, you have your own 10k to put in your own retirement accounts. (I think having only one spouse on the marital home is a bad idea anyways.)

You need to speak to separate lawyers about this, and also just to talk about how your partner sees things continuing after you have a kid and are not working, what they envision as fair in the future now, while you love each other.
posted by jeather at 2:33 PM on February 13, 2018


Spouse says they no longer wish me to invest my 30k in the home we are moving into as this will 'confuse' things.

Keep in mind that if you are not on the title you will not know if your spouse mortgages the house you think they own outright. Your husband sounds extremely naive/ignorant and also fearful about money and about the law. Possibly they have never had to worry about money and so know nothing about it. I grew up around a lot of trust fund kids and believe me, they blow through it. All of it. I'd say hell to the no on this one. If you are splitting the bills, you need equity in that house.

And don't quit your job unless your spouse is earning a decent income.

Here is how it plays out:
Scenario A. Spouse puts money in trust. Trust buys house. You live there and pay bills for years, you quit your job and are a stay at home mom. Somewhere in your late 40s to early 50s spouse leaves you. His income is so low you get peanuts for alimony and guess what? He owns nothing. So you get half of nothing. Now you live in a crappy apartment and work 3 jobs hoping to retire some time in your 80s.

Scenario B. Spouse owns house solely. Spouse gets in deep investing in creative stuff and takes out mortgage(s) on house without your knowledge. Runs up other bills but you don't worry as the house is owned outright, right? You get divorced and find out spouse is in debt up to his ads on his property and his income is so low your alimony is a joke. But this time the kids are still small. Child support is also a joke. Again: crappy apartment, no retirement savings hit with added single parenthood and childcare costs

Cannot tell you how many times I saw this play out. Half my mothers friends are in Scenario A. Any money they do have they usually spend on their kids and end up penniless, literally. One of my high school friends went from living in a very swanky are junior year and owning several horses to living in a trailer park with her mom senior year post divorce. Dad was the trust fund kid. Grandparents were still around in that case and eventually sent her to college. Her mom lived in that trailer for 15 years though.
posted by fshgrl at 2:38 PM on February 13, 2018 [23 favorites]


Btw, I think your marriage is probably fine. But your spouse needs to get over his fear/ avoidance of financial things and grow up. He doesn't get to keep all the cards
posted by fshgrl at 2:47 PM on February 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


"This clearly scared the crap out of spouse - the child of divorced parents, of which one parent in particular fared very badly out of the divorce, and about which spouse regularly says 'I am terrified of ending up like them'. So I know that part of this comes from this fear, and a strong instinct to protect oneself."

I think you are giving spouse too much credit. I personally am the child of divorced parents with significant money issues and have very strong instincts to protect myself.

To me what your spouse is doing is not cool. Personally I have no issues with pre-nups but in this specific scenario your spouse is not thinking of you as a partner and more in terms of an asset / liability. Similar to warriorqueen's comment, I do not see your spouses position coming from a place of fairness or equity for you.

Do not quit your job to be a stay home parent with this person if it is not 100% truly your own desire as well.
posted by seesom at 2:57 PM on February 13, 2018 [17 favorites]


These are all scenarios that family lawyers anticipate. This is a lawyer problem. Run, do not walk, to your own lawyer. Yesterday. Like, I hope by the time you read this comment you have already made an appointment. It's lawyer time. Lawyer!
posted by Dashy at 3:06 PM on February 13, 2018 [10 favorites]


Perhaps I'm reading too much into a username here, but Rrose Sélavy was a gender-bending pseudonym of Marcel Duchamp, so I think it might be offensive to continue to gender the participants in this question.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2018 [10 favorites]


- How do pre-nups/post-nups tend to be quantified?

IANYL
Bottom line: Marital property laws are highly jurisdiction-specific. For the legal stuff, you need to speak with a lawyer who knows marital property law in your jurisdiction. (And, obviously, NOT your spouse's friends or a random internet discussion.) States, and even courts within the same state, can vary wildly on laws on this subject and how they enforce them, not least when it comes to how to value a stay-at-home-spouse's role.

Just to point out: Even if you don't have a pre-/post-nup, laws about marital property apply. Nups are for when people want to "customize" the rules. FWIW, one marital property professor I had believes pre-nups are not as necessary as people tend to think.

Also, just having a nup doesn't guarantee that it's valid. There are requirements for a nup to be valid or enforceable (again, this depends on the state). Courts can refuse to enforce a nup for various reasons.

And when trying to gauge how fair or equitable the nup is, you'd probably want to consider the "default" rules set in your jurisdiction's laws. If you do go ahead with a nup, have your own lawyer review it!
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 3:56 PM on February 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Pre-nups are for before you sign the contract of marriage. If you don't agree, you don't get married until you can hammer out a deal you both agree to. A post-nup just feels like a breach of that marriage contract. How can you negotiate without ruining your marriage? What is your recourse if you can't reach an agreement? Divorce? Naw, if your partner wants to go back to the table because they are dissatisfied with the terms of the current deal, you need to come to the table ready for a showdown. This doesn't sound like a healthy place for a marriage but, if you want to avoid getting screwed now or in the future, you need to be ready to piss on your territory. Get a lawyer and get ready to have a rather sour relationship for a while. Have fun, glad it's not me.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:00 PM on February 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


This clearly scared the crap out of spouse - the child of divorced parents, of which one parent in particular fared very badly out of the divorce, and about which spouse regularly says 'I am terrified of ending up like them'.

Taking Spouse at Spouse's word, I feel it's kind of...sad? ironic? that the fear of the thing Spouse is trying to avoid is stirring up the prospect of that very thing.

A handful of questions raised from what you've written--
Did Spouse consider that bringing up this post-nup would have this psychological effect on you?
Did you and Spouse not discuss finances before the marriage?? Especially given Spouse's family history and fears of becoming destitute from divorce?
Who/how decided that the spouse with the salary would become the stay-at-home?
How much financial planning did Spouse do before deciding to go into this career?
--makes me wonder if Spouse (and/or you) tends to enter situations without thinking through potential consequences (other than the specter of a disadvantageous divorce). In your or Spouse's position I would look for ways to improve that awareness, how to think through it calmly rather than acting out of fear, and how to reach a point where you can talk about it constructively. But that does depend on the level of effort Spouse wants to put in, so...
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 4:09 PM on February 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


I inherited money from my parents at a time when I was considering divorce. My financial planner told me it was absolutely crucial to keep the inherited money in my name only, and not co-mingle any of the funds by creating a joint account.

I think that is why OP's spouse does not want OP to invest the 30k inheritance in the new house and, alas, I think MexicanYenta is probably correct about spouse's reasons.
posted by elphaba at 4:17 PM on February 13, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'm likely to come into an inheritance from at least one side of my family, possibly both, so I've had some discussions about this. One side of my family feels very (and, to me personally, weirdly and kind of offensively, but YMMV) strong about keeping inheritance money separate from everything else so that there's never a chance that a divorce comes along and, god forbid, separates some of the family money from the bloodline. So I can back up that that's certainly a thing that happens in some families and is so accepted as just the right way to do things that it would never occur to them to explain it in that many words until someone expresses confusion about it.

All of that said, you are also in your partner's family now, and you don't have to agree to set up your own family that way just because it may be the way his family has done things in the past. You don't have to agree to a damn thing anytime soon.

You have at the least a serious communication hurdle to work through, and at the most an impending divorce. I think you need a lawyer to make sure you understand any nuances of your situation and your local laws, and also a couples therapist to see if you can unknot some of the thorny stuff that's going on here as far as shitty communication. (And, if having made some progress on both fronts you think this is all repairable stuff, then I think probably your partner needs an individual therapist to work through some serious baggage from his parents' divorce, and you might find one handy, too.)

Meanwhile, no major or irrevocable changes. Don't sign a post-nup. Don't sign anything about moving into a house - if that means a house you have your eyes on slips away, then oh well, there will be other houses. Definitely no children; make sure you've got some solid birth control in place.
posted by Stacey at 4:48 PM on February 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


Is the house the inheritance, rather than something purchased with the inheritance?

If so, I can understand how this complicates the situation. That would give your spouse an extra emotional bond to keeping this house, which will ultimately lead to 'bad' financial decisions.

Because the reality is that you guys probably cannot afford this house. This can be hard to really understand when you already have possession of the house. But you've just swung your asset allocation pretty heavily into residential real estate. It will be hard to divide your estate without needing to sell the house, which would probably be emotionally devastating to your spouse.

If that's the case, I would probably be willing to set up a post-nup that would preserve their ability to keep the house. But it wouldn't come cheap. If you divorce before the non-house assets match the value of the house, they would have to pull out equity in the house. I'd probably agree to cap it at some level where they could afford their current lifestyle. You don't put in a dime to maintain the home until you've built a large enough portfolio that your non-house assets exceed the value of the house.

And kids are off the table until your spouse can stomach the idea of selling that house to guarantee supporting two households. Their emotional attachment is understandable. But that doesn't mean they're allowed to ask you to subsidize a house you can't afford. And asking you to disclaim rights to his assets without guaranteeing you will have assets of your own is doing just that.
posted by politikitty at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


My husband and I were in a similar position with me having more inheritance assets to consider (though it was a prenup). My family's solution was to pay for an excellent family attorney to represent him in the drawing up of the agreement, in order to ensure he gets fair representation. It was expensive, but this way there was someone ensuring that my husband's interests are covered in the fairest way, and everyone feels good about the outcome. Would your spouse be willing to do that for you? Don't take to heart everyone in this thread suggesting s/he's looking to fuck you over and isn't a team player. These things are complicated, and we've all seen hideous divorces.
posted by namesarehard at 5:13 PM on February 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


These things are complicated, indeed. You need your own legal advice, a careful conversation with your spouse, possibly couple's therapy and another long conversation with your spouse before you 1) buy a house; 2) have a child; 3) sign a post-nup; or 4) radically change how your savings is currently invested. You may even need individual therapy because this would be a really unsettling dynamic to introduce into a marriage at this stage. You may need help working through it.

You also need to come to terms what may happen if you cannot bring yourself to agree to a post-nup of this nature. You need to know what your spouse thinks is an appropriate outcome of you finding yourself unable to agree to Spouse's buying a house that you live in as stay-at-home parent with no rights to it.

Personally, there is no way in hell I would agree to make a home with a spouse under an agreement that the building, its equity and ownership was 100% theirs and only theirs, forever and ever amen. YMMV.
posted by crush at 5:32 PM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


In my state of Maine, there's marital property and non-marital property. We each had businesses and had a nuptual agreement saying the businesses were protected and non-marital. Kind of useful because in a divorce, it would suck to lose livelihood. I sold my business, proceeds went into a house with spouse. We had a brief agreement to the effect that $XX,XXX.00 down payment for the house came from the sale of Theora's business, non-marital porperty. In the event of divorce, this will be recognized. It was signed, not notarized. We did get divorced. I searched high and low, finally found the document (with a coffee ring, hah) and it saved the house for me, which made it possible to support kid55 with no help. In divorce, things can get ugly quickly. Money from before the marriage and inheritances can be kept as non-marital property.

Sit down and think it through together. If you buy a house outright with spouse's inheritance, spouse takes a risk, but is likely to build equity. You lose the opportunity to build equity, the credit building, tax break. Mortgage interest rates are still historically low. You could buy a house with your $ and spouse's match, mortgage the rest. Or some other plan. If there's a period when you don't work, and take care of kids, you should still have that equity building option, and some consideration for loss of other equity, pay, career, etc.

Spouse may be hearing from family or friends who have their own experiences. The 2 of you have the option to look at the whole picture and work together so that both of you are protected. Each of you should be looking out for the other. My ex- didn't look out for me in so many ways and that's a big part of what tanked the marriage. For the marriage to work, both people have to be fair. This is being tested. You can decide to make it work, or not.
posted by theora55 at 5:48 PM on February 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


I know of a couple where things did not end well for them who seemed in a similar situation to where your partner is suggesting you go. Guy was an artist (metal sculpture) and he inherited a house and a little money. He lived there for awhile and met a girl. They got married and had two kids. She didn't work because the two kids came pretty close together and she did not have a lucrative job to start (something in the restaurant industry). He wasn't that great about keeping the metalwork business going and when things got tight, the house fell apart. She tried to get work but couldn't get enough childcare (either him or paid because it's so expensive). As the house fell into greater and greater disrepair, things got pretty desperate. Then we had a housing bubble burst and (oh, I nearly forgot this!) it was discovered that he had also inherited a second property and was renting it out but had never told the wife it existed. So he had a little money squirrelled away but either didn't want to share or maybe he used it to keep things afloat or whatever but it caused a huge problem because she wanted him to sell it to help them out and he refused. She took both kids and moved out of state to live with her mother so she could get childcare and work. Also, by that time, she felt she couldn't afford any kind of lawyer and they may still be legally married today.

I think your partner's plan, regardless of where it came from, is not well thought out. As many have said, you need to work through this together from a few angles including financial planning. But always get your own legal advice and don't rely just on the advice of a lawyer he pays for.
posted by amanda at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


Please go listen to the first Life / Death / Law podcast, which is about pre-nups. Shit happens; money is a complicated issue for many of us, ditto marriage, ditto life itself. In an ideal world, your spouse (and you, perhaps) might have considered a prenup considering your inheritance and their apartment ownership. That did not happen at the time, but it is not too late to carefully consider what you both value. I recommend listening to the pre-nup podcast because it is warm, generous, and educational. It talks about using a pre-nup to reinforce your values. While it may be unfortunate that the two of you did not consider creating one before you got married, considering one now is not the end of the world. I am not going to join the pileup on your partner; I hear a story about a panicky human being, not necessarily an awful one. Life is uncertain; things shift. Your spouse has not approached this gently nor perfectly. That fact does not require you to dump them, nor to rage, unless you plan to be perfect yourself for the rest of your marriage.

My suggestions include: Have your feelings; express them kindly. Consider discussing the concept, with your spouse, of looking for solutions that consider three perspectives: what is best for you, what is best for your partner, and what is best for your relationship as a whole. As others note, it's important to get professional guidance. Make sure you have good representation legally and make appropriate allowances in the legal agreement for whomever ends up primarily responsible for the childcare. If things shift again, it might be your partner, who knows?

Going forward, consider splitting bills based on income (if you don't do that already). That 50/50 shit is completely unfair unless both parties have the same income. Finally, please listen to that podcast. It may seem unnecessary but it will make the idea of an agreement less scary. And consider asking your partner listen with you to the third podcast, The Practice of Generosity, which is about estate planning.

Humans are really good at creating deal breakers. This thing your spouse did does not have to mean, "I don't love you." Give yourself and your spouse time to breathe and reflect. Use your words, find an attorney, listen to the podcasts, and give yourself some kind of reward for standing up for yourself. Seriously. Get a fancy coffee, go buy a book, whatever. You are taking care of yourself. That is hard to do, especially in this kind of situation. So you are all kinds of awesome sauce for not just rolling over in the face of your spouse's fear, and saying okay whatever. You can take care of yourself and, almost certainly, you can still be loved by your spouse. And if you cannot be loved by your spouse because you must take care of yourself, that is important information to have. But I bet things will work out. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:22 PM on February 13, 2018 [11 favorites]


Think of it this way, it's not your house, you just get to clean it. Proceed accordingly.
posted by Jubey at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2018 [34 favorites]


I'm concerned that you are worried about being seen as a gold-digger when you are currently the only employed partner in your relationship and in much better financial shape than your partner, but you're somehow going to be demonized when that dynamic flips? Hmm. I'm also unclear on the plans for the future here. You are going to quit your job and be a SAHP, but your spouse is going to continue on their path of freelance/unemployed/landlord of a single property? Who is going to be contributing to home repairs and paying property taxes on both the house and the rented apartment, paying for the kids, paying for groceries for 3+ people, etc? What is your spouse planning on doing all day while you are staying at home caring for the children, and they're having a slow month in whatever creative industry they're in, and you don't work, so no parent is really employed? I think it's an enormous red flag that your spouse wants to financially cut you out of the home you're going to be living in, but there are a bunch of other red flags here about your spouse's general understanding of how to be financially stable and functional. This trust fund kid attitude of "the money will get taken care of, somehow, not my business, not my problem" is going to cause a lot of grief down the line, post-nup or no. There seems to be a lot of selfishness and entitlement going on with your spouse, and I would be very wary of how this could turn out.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:06 PM on February 13, 2018 [18 favorites]


Also whatever else you do? Insure the house. For a lot. Buy all the insurances.
posted by fshgrl at 8:29 PM on February 13, 2018


I can't help but wondering whether it's helpful to the OP to hear various people take one strong position or another. Regarding the question of how to move toward a Team Us position, I think the best solution is counseling to get at the underlying feelings of both partners and finding an approach that seeks to meet both partners' needs. I do know a financial planner whose specialty is helping couples have conversations about their individual and shared long-term priorities, if you want a referral. But it's possible that things are so tense now that you may want to start with a full-fledged couples counselor and separate attorneys.
posted by slidell at 8:43 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Definitely go to a counselor and lawyer. It’s reasonable to create an agreement about the money, but you need to be fair to yourself and be on the same page. My only concern here is that you seem to be highly undervaluing your contribution to the marriage. Having a job likely also means you are paying into retirement savings and providing health benefits - even before salary those are crucial to the family. If you stay home with your children you are saving on childcare costs and allowing your partner to earn.

I would feel the same way you do. Pre/ post nups are practical of course, but have a transactional feeling. In our family we pool all resources and if there was a divorce we would split our assets equitably, because we want our children to live comfortably and the stay-at-home parent has sacrificed for the family. It’s a very tough job and some compensation should be assumed in case of divorce. I do expect an inheritance at some point, but not enough to change our family dynamics. If your spouse is dealing with extremely substantial wealth (multi millions?) maybe the disbursement of funds can be unequitable, but you shouldn’t be living in a trailer while spouse is in a mansion (not least because it’s a terrible message for the children, as spouse has learned).
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:01 AM on February 14, 2018


[One deleted. Please just give OP your helpful advice and don't get into whose comments you do or do not agree with. It's fine to recommend against something, even if someone else has endorsed that thing, but the point of the site is not to debate specific other commenters, but rather to offer the poster your own best suggestion. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:12 AM on February 14, 2018


Let's assume that Spouse isn't simply greedy or evil. Don't sign anything until you (at the very least) get a legal perspective. Commenters in this thread have suggested a whole raft of bad situations that might arise from an uninformed decision. Nothing bad can come from simply getting yourself informed. At the personal level, spouse may need to air out some unstated fears, so they can be addressed. The proper order of concern is to gain legal advice, then see if some sort of counseling is in order.

In my experience, family members are not a reliable resource, as they tend to be biased when it comes to money.
posted by mule98J at 12:19 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Let me give another perspective (which I don't see above) on the inheritance issue.

Say there's no pre/post-nup. Spouse and the OP are married on September 26. Spouse's uncle lives overseas and has never met or heard of the OP. The uncle dies at 11pm local time on October 1. Under Uncle's will, although there's still probate etc to deal with, the family mansion immediately vests in the Spouse. Then at 7am on October 2 the Spouse goes under a bus and is no more. Under Spouse's will and/or state law, all of Spouse's assets, including the Spouse family mansion, immediately vest in the OP.

This is a tragic situation and there's no way anything about it was planned or thought about beforehand. Confusion and upset will reign.

But the upshot is that the newlywed OP, whom the Uncle never knew, is now the owner of the family mansion, unexpected by anyone. If the uncle had known about the marriage, he would have revised his will or asked Spouse to arrange for a pre/post-nup to keep the mansion in the family in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Possibly the best non-evil example of why people use these agreements.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2018


This is not a plausible situation given that OP and spouse are already married and have been for a year. If you're suggesting spouse should protect themselves with a post nup against the possibility he may one day unexpectedly inherit and then unexpectedly die, then you're saying every married couple should do this, because it could happen to anyone of us. If this is your opinion, I'm curious as to whether you had a pre/post nup to protect yourself from randomly inheriting?

I'm not against pre/post on principle, what I'm against in this situation is that spouse has blindsided his wife with this after the marriage, where the terms are totally in his favour, she is the breadwinner, he has the assets but has somehow managed to put the onus on her for everything else, make the money initially, birth the kids, raise the kids, clean the house while he doesn't bring anything to the equation, except his inheritance which he won't put forward into the family pot.

He has no obligations and all the power and he is pre-emptively attempting to screw her in advance and take complete advantage of her. This is such a dangerous situation for her and not one that considers her with love or on the same team. This attitude is toxic to a fledgling marriage, the only thing good I can say about it at the moment is at least he has shown who he is before they have kids and she knows what she will be getting into.
posted by Jubey at 5:52 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


OP, I've sent you a PM.
posted by Jubey at 8:03 PM on February 14, 2018


[One deleted. We understand that sometimes people aren't paying a lot of attention and/or fall into assumptions, and we can't control every slip, but OP has not specified spouse's gender, and saying specifically (paraphrased) "well, I'm going to assign gender anyway, even though you, OP, went to some pains to leave that info out" isn't great. People can use "they" to refer to a person of unknown gender (or, obviously, a person who has requested "they" as a pronoun), and "spouse" or "partner" rather than "husband" or "wife."]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:10 AM on February 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Re my post yesterday, Jubey is right. I gave a very specific hypothetical situation that is an example of a non-evil use of pre/post-nup agreements. Namely, one use of such an agreement might be to keep a historic ancestral home in the family, and not inadvertently have it inherited by a spouse. Of course, in such a case, the spouse should be fairly provided for by assets other than the ancestral home.

I thought there had been too much of an assumption in the thread that pre/post-nups are inherently evil.

However, my example did not apply to the OP's situation. I should not have referred to
"the OP" in my hypothetical example.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:02 PM on February 15, 2018


Say there's no pre/post-nup. Spouse and the OP are married on September 26. Spouse's uncle lives overseas and has never met or heard of the OP. The uncle dies at 11pm local time on October 1. Under Uncle's will, although there's still probate etc to deal with, the family mansion immediately vests in the Spouse. Then at 7am on October 2 the Spouse goes under a bus and is no more. Under Spouse's will and/or state law, all of Spouse's assets, including the Spouse family mansion, immediately vest in the OP.

This is a tragic situation and there's no way anything about it was planned or thought about beforehand. Confusion and upset will reign.

But the upshot is that the newlywed OP, whom the Uncle never knew, is now the owner of the family mansion, unexpected by anyone. If the uncle had known about the marriage, he would have revised his will or asked Spouse to arrange for a pre/post-nup to keep the mansion in the family in the event of unforeseen circumstances.


I don't want to quibble, but this is not how things would work in a substantial number of US states, due to anti-lapse and survivorship law (if you don't know what those are, you probably can't coherently discuss this topic).

Also, if Uncle doesn't like this outcome, he can do about a trazillion things with the family home, none of which leave OP living in a home in which she has no ownership interest.

OP, this thread should scream GET A LAWYER to you because you need to GET A LAWYER. This area of law is complicated and not suitable for amateurs (myself included, as a not-lawyer).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sometimes when people grow up in really unstable situations (financially or otherwise) and then that is compounded by working in an unstable field (like the arts), they lose the ability to cultivate trust. It is a skill that a lot of people take for granted.

Please have a really long talk with your spouse separate from relatives about this. I'll give you an example of one of my good friends.

Vivian comes from a conservative Christian home with lots of kids, a stay at home mom, and a working dad. The dad has wanderlust and continually changes jobs and moves around. Dad tries to start a business and after a bit of success nearly goes bankrupt. Vivian, as the oldest of the large family, has artsy and girly interests which her parents support in theory but not with their time or finances. When she does find a free or cheap outlet, let's say cheap painting classes at the local center, she has to do yard work for neighbors to pay for paints and supplies. Additionally, the parents won't let her drive the family car because they don't want to pay for her insurance and she can't afford insurance either. The parents don't want to take time to drive her themselves. Although mom and dad agreed to let her take the class, they sabotage her attempts to go by insisting she get neighbors to drive her, or telling her she can't go because she forgot to clean one dish on the sink, or because she fought with a sibling that morning, etc.

Vivian's entire childhood was this way, yet the Vivian I know is extremely smart, capable, and a good friend and spouse. However she has severe trust issues that she masks very well. She and her husband have been married around 10 years. He had an idyllic childhood and is extremely giving. They don't have a postnup but they do have separate bank accounts. If she came into money, I could easily see her going in the direction of your spouse. Not because she has a foot out the door but because she is incapable of trusting anyone at the risk of her survival.

It still works for them. Even though she is in the arts she currently makes more than her spouse and actually ended up bailing him out of his debts with her savings. But she has relayed lot of uncomfortable conversations over the years about money. She is slowly becoming more trusting.

So maybe your spouse is waiting to bolt. Or maybe they have an extremely dysfunctional mindset that is not entirely their fault. Make sure you know which one it is before proceeding.
posted by ticktickatick at 9:19 AM on March 1, 2018


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