When entering a marriage or civil partnership, you may consider a prenuptial agreement; a document declaring how assets will be split between the couple should the marriage eventually end in divorce.
Not every couple will need a prenup, but if you are getting married it can be useful to consider if you are one of the couples that do. There are 5 main reasons why you may want to get a prenup for your marriage.
A common reason for a prenup, is any asset the couple may have that would be difficult to divide up 50/50. This can include anything from property to possessions. A prenup can help to determine who gets these assets in the event of a divorce.
Before using these assets as a reason to create a prenup, think about whether they are important enough to you to get a settlement on the table before the marriage. Are you confident that if the time ever came for a divorce, you would be able to decide on a fair division of your assets then? If not, you may need a prenup.
Another frequent reason for setting up a prenup is the financial protection of a couple’s children. You cannot decide on custody in a prenup, but you can ensure that both parents will retain the financial security to look after a child as a single parent. If you have children before the marriage, as many couples do, a prenup can help ensure your children’s financial future should the marriage ever breakdown.
A prenup is especially important if you or your partner are coming into the marriage with children from a previous relationship. If you partner divorced you, there would no obligation for them to continue to financially look after your child, their ex-stepchild. The child would also not be guaranteed inheritance rights. Asking your partner to agree to a prenup will help to guarantee their support for your child financially no matter what the future holds.
Some couples feel they need a prenup to protect their inheritance. The issue of who gets to keep inherited money or assets passed on to a couple after a divorce can be contentious. You may feel that as the money was left to the couple the assts should be split 50/50, however you may feel that if the couple are no longer together, the relation of the person leaving the inheritance should override who the money goes to. For example, if a wife’s mother passed away and left them property, should it go to the divorced couple, in which case it would likely be sold, or should it belong to the daughter outright?
If you are expecting to receive a particularly valuable inheritance in the future, and you have strong opinions on whom this should go to if the marriage ends, it may be worth suggesting a prenup to ensure this is carried out.
Another key reason behind the creation of many prenups is the fate of a couple’s business ventures. If a couple own a business, either together or one member owns their own, control of this business can be divided up by a court in the event of a divorce. This leads to two important reasons to create a prenup:
If you started your own business before your marriage (potentially before you even met your partner),the possibility of losing even partial control of your business might be something you want to protect against.
If you started a business together as a couple, ensuring that you both get to keep control of part of the company can ensure that it won’t come between you further down the line. This does, however, open up the possibility of a conversation about who does more for the company and therefore deserves a higher share. Decide whether that’s a conversation better had now or later.
You may also want to decide who gets to keep the company if you would no longer wish to work together after a divorce.
Debts and savings
Finally, it may be the case that either member of the couple (or both of you) has individual savings or outstanding debts. In the event of a divorce these savings and the liability for outstanding debts may end up being split between both members of the marriage.
If you have savings that you would like to keep as your own, or you are worried about the size of your or your partner’s outstanding debts, suggesting a prenup might be a way to avoid any future issues. If you are worried about debts specifically, remember to include a ‘debt clause’ in your prenup.
Remember that getting a prenuptial agreement must be a mutual decision, so if you have any of these concerns it must be brought up in open discussion with your partner before any decision is made.
In the event of a divorce, the court will make sure that both parties freely agreed to sign their prenup. Therefore, if your partner does not believe that you need a prenup, and you cannot convince them otherwise, you cannot get one.