Why Get a Prenup? Marriage Is a Financial Partnership Too
by Lovette T. Mioni
Most people wouldn’t go into business without insurance. So why do so many couples get married without a prenup?
Marriage, like it or not, is a financial partnership – whether or not the couple decides to keep their finances separate or comingle them. If they’re smart, they’ll talk about their expectations and responsibilities before they tie the knot, whether they have a few grand tucked away in a savings account, or millions of dollars invested in complicated portfolios.
The financial conversation is necessary to every couple. The prenup conversation though, will particularly benefit anyone who:
- Owns a home, real property, or valuable collections/heirlooms
- Owns a business
- Has a stock or retirement fund
- Expects, or already has an inheritance
- Has a child or children from a previous marriage
- Has loved ones that need special care/elder care
- Is pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession
- Expects dramatically increased earnings in the future
A legally enforceable prenup is fair to both parties, and is not signed under duress.
It should define and protect community and separate property, support an estate plan, save time and money by reducing conflicts in the event of a divorce, and lay down some ground rules for deciding future problems.
Since California is a no fault state, the parties can’t write in financial penalties for bad behavior or making lifestyle decisions, such as cheating, refusing to have children, or taking up gambling.
They can however, protect themselves from debts one of the parties incurs should s/he make some of these choices. That’s why prenups are like insurance.
When Should You Ask for a Prenup?
Some people find it easier to mention their preferences for a prenup very early in a relationship, as part of a general conversation regarding marriage, for example. This way the boyfriend or girlfriend will know what to expect further down the road, should the relationship progress more seriously.
Others ensure they talk about prenuptial agreements before the engagement; while some others wait until the 11th hour, fearing hurt feelings and the potential end of what was once a good relationship.
Generally speaking, the earlier you bring up the idea, the better.
Whenever you decide to pop the question – the prenup question, that is – know that California law requires there be seven days between presentation and execution of the prenuptial agreement, Family Code §1615(c)(2). This gives time for the person receiving the prenup to seek legal counsel to protect his/her own assets.
Contact one of our Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys for more information.