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john65pennington's avatar

Pre-Nuptial Agreement before marriage. good or bad?

Asked by john65pennington (29235points) May 30th, 2010

Wife and i never had a pre-nuptial agreement before we married each other. so, why do so many couples insist on having one today? to me, a pre-nup sets the stage for distrust, even before the first “I Do” is said. Question: is a pre-nuptial agreement, before marriage, really necessary? why?

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25 Answers

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Well, considering that half of all marriages end in divorce these days, so having a pre-nuptial agreement is probably helpful with a lot of married couples who do end up getting divorced. One would hope that couples could split amicably, but with so many nasty divorces out there it’s good to have something absolute and on paper that individuals can adhere to… That way one person doesn’t end up totally screwed over, anyhow.

My parents got married in 1969 and I don’t think they had a pre-nup. They’re still together, so obviously I don’t think they needed one. Unfortunately that seems to be a rather uncommon situation these days.

When I get married, my partner and I will have to think long and hard about getting one. Sure you may be totally in love and trusting with one another at the time, but it’s amazing how ugly things can turn when a relationship goes sour.

Nullo's avatar

I agree, @john65pennington, it sounds like a poor idea in that regard.

bolwerk's avatar

Look at what marriage is: a permanent (“unto death…” or divorce, anyway), binding contract that interweaves property and custodial rights…without a lot of thought put into the implications. It confers some rights (inheritance, for instance), but it also confers many obligations, not least of all might be the possibility of alimony in the event of a divorce. A pre-nup at least requires some thought to be put into those implications.

Until recently, most women lacked the economic and political power to get much in the event of a divorce. Now that they have that power, divorces have become much more (a) common and (b) vicious.

john65pennington's avatar

Para, just a great answer. i still say a pre-nup agreement casts a shadow of distrust from the very beginning. i understand your answer and maybe things have changed, since wife and i married. i trusted her then and i trust her now, even with my life. marriage is what you make it. a pre-nup is telling each other, ” i love you, but i do not trust you”. lousy way to start a marriage.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@john65pennington Yeah, I think I agree about the shadow of distrust thing, but you can never be sure how things will turn out, you know? People get married for a lot of reasons, including a lot of stupid ones. Take the common situation in which people get married simply because the girlfriend gets pregnant and they feel compelled to get married. They may not trust each other entirely, or they may not have been together for long enough to have gotten past the honeymoon phase of the relationship and really learn to trust one another. However, when I think about it, I don’t think many people who get married in that situation would make a pre-nuptial agreement.

On the other hand, a pre-nup might be a good opportunity for couples to admit some of their uncertainties about their relationship. If both people have to sign this agreement, they’re obviously going to have to talk about why they put certain things in there. That would hopefully give each person the chance to talk openly about their concerns and wishes, perhaps ultimately allowing them to more fully understand each other instead of keeping secrets and insecurities hidden.

Likeradar's avatar

@john65pennington I’m not married or even engaged, but the boy and I have talked about prenups. I don’t see it as “I love you, but I don’t trust you.” I see it as “I love you, but I love me too and I’m realistic.”

chels's avatar

I’m getting married in a few months and we haven’t even talked about a pre-nup. To be honest, that’s fine with me. I don’t see the point really. But that’s just me.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it depends on the people involved. I can completely understand someone getting married after establishing their career wanting to protect their hard work just in case. The only reason I could understand wanting one would be if one person was bringing some major assets into the relationship that their partner had no part in establishing. I don’t think it’s a sign of distrust, just protecting oneself from possibly being taken advantage of.

skfinkel's avatar

The pre-nuptial agreement in this high divorce (no-fault, no reponsibilty) climate makes sense if one person has far more money than another—but it not only sows the seeds of future problems, it can create them if it has “bumps” along the way, where the longer a couple is together, the larger percentage of whatever is being protected goes to the spouse—thus the sense of loss of one’s fortune is reconsidered over and over again. I heard that many divorces happen just before these “bumps.”

laureth's avatar

Like so many things that people disagree about in today’s society, it can be a good or a bad idea.

1. Not all couples are the same. Some are clearly built to last, and some only think they are. So an absolute “yes” or “no” answer will not work for every couple. Reality is fuzzy like that.

2. Reality sometimes trumps ideals. If you manage your life according to ideals (“no, honey, of course I trust you, we don’t need no stinkin’ prenup!”), you are free to not get one, but you are also free to be screwed over if the ideal is only an ideal.

3. Prenups are like emergency equipment: it’s better to have one and not need it, than to need one and not have it.

4. This said, my husband and I do not have one. I was surprised that he didn’t want one. He’d gone through a rotten, bitter divorce about five years before we met, so when he asked me to marry, I offered one right up front as proof that I wasn’t out to get him or be evil like that. He declined. As such, I think the offer of a prenup can show something within you that can increase the amount of trust in a relationship, even if you never take advantage of it.

I think it all boils down to: how would you prefer to live (“It can’t happen to me!” versus “Be prepared!”) and what kind of couple you are (which is only revealed with time).

john65pennington's avatar

laureth, you two seem to have it all together and thats great. the fact that you offered to sign one in the beginning, was proof to your hubby that you were in for the long haul with him. this was a great suggestion on your part. smooth sailing to the both of you. john

Lightlyseared's avatar

If you think you need a prenup then you should probably rethink the whole marriage thing.

Seek's avatar

It’s a personal choice. My husband and I both felt that planning for the end before the beginning was a silly way to go about things. Still, I can understand why many people choose to use them.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I think a pre-nup is a good thing in second marriages, where there are children from previous relationships, and a co-mingling of assets. Or if one person comes to the relationship with significant money. People as a rule don’t understand how ownership works. For example, if you marry someone, move into their house, help make the mortgage payments, and they die intestate, the house goes to their children. How is pre-existing debt going to be handled? What happens if one person wants children, and the other does not?

nikipedia's avatar

I think this question and many of the answers very subtly make the assumption that people who get divorced did something wrong—got married for the wrong reasons, were too weak to stick it out, etc.

There are a lot of reasons people get divorced, some good, and some bad.

Those who signed a prenup will probably have a little bit less suffering and fighting, which can only be a good thing when you go through something so tragic.

Why judge.

zophu's avatar

If you’re a person who desires a legal wedding to somehow signify your love for another person you’re a person who should probably get a prenup.

Blackberry's avatar

Maybe people are more untrustworthy, or people should stop marrying so soon to people they don’t really know, but I think they are very necessary to protect assets.

trailsillustrated's avatar

my husband asked for one and I said “what, huh? I’m not signing anything, I don’t care if we marry or not”. It never came up again.

JLeslie's avatar

Prenups are common among the upper class. Imagine you have millions and will go on to make millions, and possibly make loads of interest off of family money also, do you want your spouse to get half if you get a divorce? When couples start with almost nothing at a young age and build their life together, including their financial life, as a team, it is difficult to think of worrying what is mine and and what is my spouses. But when you come into a relationship at an older age with some wealth, or even a young age with family wealth, I think it is understandable that maybe the couple wants to define legal parameters regarding the money if there is a divorce. After all, the civil marriage basically is all about the law, a contract, rights, responsibilities, disadvantages and advantages given to spouses legally. Truth is probably too many people don’t even know what they are getting into legally when they get married. They are just thinking about the emotional and/or religious part.

perspicacious's avatar

Only if you own property prior to marriage that you want to be sure goes to your children from a prior marriage. I’ve drafted them with the feeling that they served no purpose other than to say this couple is not ready for marriage.

LostInParadise's avatar

A thought occurred to me. What if the issues usually addressed in pre-nuptials were incorporated into the nuptials? That is, the two people getting married would be required to make certain decisions as part of the marriage contract. It might have the effect of discouraging some shaky marriages and of making divorce a less messy process.

OpryLeigh's avatar

My partner and I have no plans to get married but, seeing as he is quite a few years older than me and so has been making money for longer than me (he’s not exactly rich but he is comfortable. I, on the other had, struggle to get through the month on my wages), I would offer to sign a pre-nup if we were to marry. I doubt he would take me up on the offer but I have found that, with age gap relationships often comes the accusations of “gold digger” from the outsiders looking in. A pre-nup might prove to some people that I love the man regardless of how much he earns.

laureth's avatar

There does seem to be a difference between “asking for a prenup” and “offering a prenup,” doesn’t there? Even though the end result may be the same.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@laureth Absolutely. Like your partner, I doubt mine would accept my offer but I would be more than happy to sign a pre-nup.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Instead of paying $20 for a license, couples should have to negotiate a contract prior to the wedding. The wedding is ceremonial; you should become legally wed upon execution of the marriage contract, which is theoretically what the license is. It used to be that the groom had to post a bond at the time of the execution of the license.

Interestingly, a change to married upon execution of the contract would address gay marriage quite nicely. Religious people could still have a religious ceremony, with the signing and notarization of the signatures as part of the ceremony (signing of the license is part of religious ceremonies.) Churches could forbid gay marriages, but the execution of a contract is beyond the authority of religious entities.

People need to address asset sharing, what happens if one person develops a terminal illness, how debt will be handled, pre-marital assets, support during education, stay at home parenting, care of elderly parents, etc. These are the things that need to talked out beforehand. Most people divorce over money issues. Marriage should be harder to get into than it is.

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