Why should I get a prenup?
Prenups have an undeserved bad reputation. The truth is prenuptial agreements can be used to cover many possible scenarios in life and they can be appropriate even for couples without significant wealth. The benefit of a prenup can be applied to any relationship, regardless of assets or income. Here are 25 reasons you should consider getting a prenup before saying “I do.”
Reason #1- Make plans while you are most happy together.
One of the biggest benefits of a prenup is it offers honest and upfront communication while you are both most in love. If the marriage doesn’t work out, any of the issues that could have been addressed early will become major power struggles during the divorce. If the marriage ends in divorce, the prenup will prevent many of the most contentious financial arguments.
Reason #2- Address debt obligations.
Traditionally, prenups have been used to determine what will happen to assets that either spouse brings into the marriage or acquire during the marriage. Prenups can also be used to address any debt obligations that are brought into the marriage, or acquired during the marriage, a benefit that applies to couples of all income levels.
Reason #3- A divorce can lead to financial ruin.
Divorce can cause significant financial problems for years, and is even a leading cause of bankruptcy. While no one wants to think that their happy marriage could end in a contentious divorce, ending up on the wrong side of a divorce can cost you your financial stability, retirement savings, and credit rating. A prenup can protect you against this, and also the significant legal fess that would arise in a contentious divorce.
Reason #4- A prenup protects victims who are blindsided by divorce.
Many divorces take place after months of fighting or a major life event, but sometimes they are the result of one spouse being blindsided. In this case, one spouse may have a divorce sprung on them without anything time to prepare. A prenuptial agreement can at the very least ensure there is a plan in place for a separation.
Reason #5- It can protect a business.
If you enter into a relationship as a business owner or a part owner in a business, a prenup can help you protect your ownership. This can be especially important when a family business is involved.
Reason #6- Settle potential alimony issues in a formal agreement.
The amount of spousal support that should be paid is often an acrimonious and expensive issue if a couple separates. The amount of spousal support that is payable can be surprisingly for most people, particularly where one spouse earns significantly more than the other. A prenuptial agreement can allow the parties to waive spousal support, set out a specific amount, or agree to a formula for spousal support. This is an important issue to think about if one spouse wants to stay home to raise children.
Reason #7- Get a better understanding of your spouse’s needs, goals, and concerns before marriage.
While drafting a prenup can bring up difficult discussions sometimes, it’s also an opportunity to have an open and honest discussion about finances, child-rearing, and other important issues before you get married. This can give you an excellent opportunity to learn more about your spouse’s needs, motivations, and concerns before you tie the knot. The very act of coming to an agreement can reveal many things you have in common and potential “dealbreakers” that you definitely want to know before you get married.
Reason #8- A prenup can ensure the marriage is about the relationship, not the assets.
If you have substantial wealth or you are much wealthier than your partner, it definitely makes sense to enter into a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets. This agreement before marriage can also ensure that the marriage is really about your partner marrying you for who you are, not what you own.
Reason #9- A prenup can protect a financially weaker partner.
Many people assume prenups are about protecting the wealthier partner, but they can also offer protection for spouses who are not well off before the marriage or earn far less than their spouse. A prenuptial agreement can be used to ensure the financially weaker spouse receives alimony or sufficient assets in a divorce and is not left destitute.
Reason #10 – You are remarrying.
When you remarry, your legal and financial concerns are often very different than in your first marriage. You may have children from a previous marriage, support obligations, and own a home or other significant assets. A prenup can ensure that when you pass away, your assets are distributed according to your wishes, and that neither your first family, nor your new family are cut off.
Reason #11- You want to protect a specific asset.
A prenup can also be used to protect specific assets. In Ontario, this would most often be a matrimonial home, as matrimonial homes are treated differently than other assets. But it need not be a home – it could be a pension or something else of value.
Reason #12- You want to give up something for your spouse.
A prenup can be used for more than protecting the assets of a wealthy spouse; they can also help protect the interests of a spouse who gives up a career or otherwise makes financial sacrifices for the other spouse. For example, this can be used to protect a spouse who gives up a career to stay home and raise children or a spouse to supports the other financially while they attend school. In these cases, the prenup can offer protection by guaranteeing the spouse receives compensation for this sacrifice if the marriage ends.
Reason #13- Build a firm foundation for marriage.
Finances are a leading cause of divorce, whether it is due to financial struggles during the marriage, concealed financial problems of one spouse, or some other cause. Sitting down to create a prenup requires both parties take a good look at and reveal their full financial situation. This open discussion about finances can help build a strong foundation for marriage.
Reason #14- A prenup allows both spouses to leave a marriage that isn’t working.
Many people find themselves trapped in an unhappy relationship because they are not financially strong enough to leave. This is especially true when children are involved and one spouse stays home to care for the children or doesn’t make enough to support themselves and their children alone. A prenup can give both spouses the financial protection they need to end a marriage that no longer works.
Reason #15- It can reduce pressure on the relationship.
A prenup acknowledges that the marriage may end, but this can work to reduce stress on both spouses. The prenup can clearly lay out what will happen in the event the relationship ends and give each spouse the financial protection they need to understand that their lives will not be destroyed by a divorce. This can work to relieve stress on the relationship and improve honesty.
Reason #16- It protects both spouses from an unfair settlement.
Everyone has heard a divorce horror story, such as a man who lost most of his pension and home in a divorce after a short marriage or a woman who stayed home to raise children for decades only to be left for another woman with no job skills or work history. A positive feature of a prenuptial agreement is it is created when everyone is happy in the relationship for a solid and fair arrangement.
Reason #17- It takes the vengeance out of divorce.
Because a prenup lays out clear terms for a financial settlement, it reduces the frustration of an already stressful situation. Because emotions often run high when a relationship ends, a prenuptial agreement also prevents a vengeful spouse from trying to take everything or holding out purely out of malice.
Reason #18- It avoids the drawn-out legal battle.
A divorce can happen very quickly or it can draw out for years if it is contested and both spouses cannot come to an agreement. A prenup ensures a settlement will happen as quickly as possible because all major financial issues have already been addressed. Instead of spending months or even years in a courtroom and arguing with your spouse, you can move on and begin rebuilding your life.
Reason #19 – It doesn’t need to be awkward or embarrassing.
A growing number of men and women are reporting they are more open to signing a prenup than ever before as more people realize that prenups do not have to be about protecting one spouse’s assets or punishing another spouse. Getting a prenup does not need to be embarrassing or awkward. Instead, focus on the benefits of sitting down with your future spouse and how it can protect the both of you in the event of a divorce.
Reason #20 – To prevent your partner from overturning your estate plan.
In many provinces your partner has certain family law rights that override any estate plans you have made, and that can result in expensive litigation. A prenup is an essential part of an estate plan, because it ensures that your assets are distributed as you want them to be when you pass away.