...

How to Bring up the Topic of Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements, commonly known as prenups, often carry a negative stigma in our society. There’s a perception that these agreements are solely for hiding assets, protecting wealth in a potential divorce, or harming a future spouse in some way. Many perceive prenups as a result of greed, particularly when one partner possesses substantially more assets. While some prenups do stem from such intentions, many individuals undergoing divorce lament not discussing property, assets, and debts through a prenuptial agreement instead of enduring a protracted divorce process. So, how do you bring up the topic of a prenuptial agreement with your partner?

Let’s stop right there and think about this for a minute. After ten years of marriage and accumulating substantial financial wealth and assets, your spouse has filed for divorce. The divorce process is now underway, with a 60-day requirement in Texas from the date of filing. Additionally, you can expect several months of negotiation over the division of your community estate.

These are months of your life and possibly dollars in your pocket that we will not be able to get back. The reality of the situation is that while divorce does not have to take a year to complete, it typically does take somewhere between 4 and six months. During these months, your life is on hold, delaying the start of the next chapter in your adult life after your marriage ends.

Navigating the sensitive terrain of prenuptial agreements

While a divorce can be something necessary in your life, it is undoubtedly an unpleasant experience. Nobody who goes through a divorce sits there with a straight face at the end of their case and says to themselves that this was a fun process and that they would do it again if given the opportunity, even if they knew that your divorce was a long time coming.

Even if you understood the necessity for yourself and your family, no one would willingly go through or repeat a divorce that could have been avoided. All you need to do is talk to anyone who has gone through a divorce that you know, and I can almost promise you that they will tell you the same thing. It doesn’t matter if your divorce worked out in your favor or if your divorce couldn’t have gone any worse for you. Nobody feels like a winner after a divorce.

Now, I will not tell you that a prenuptial agreement can help you avoid a divorce. I will also not tell you that a prenuptial agreement will make divorce more pleasant. I can tell you that I think there are many advantages that a prenuptial agreement offers to people in the context of their marriage and helping you avoid divorce in the long term. Before we discuss how to bring up the subject of a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, I want to talk about what I think the advantages are for some people who get prenuptial agreements.

The advantages of prenuptial agreements

One of the things that amazed me as a young family law attorney was how untransparent some people are in the marriage. When my wife and I got married, I never sought advice from older people to tell me how their marriages worked. I guess I sort of thought I had it figured out myself about how my wife and I would run our house.

One of the things that we did immediately was to combine our incomes, share bank accounts, and share financial goals. Doing so accomplished many things, but most notably, it caused us to communicate with each other frequently regarding finances. It wasn’t as if my wife could up and spend a bunch of money on a credit card that I wasn’t aware of. Sharing all our accounts and access information online ensured clarity about where money was going or how it was being spent.

Conversely, I’ve discovered that many spouses enter marriage with no intention of sharing financial information with their partners. These folks will have either had bad experiences in prior marriages or relationships doing so or don’t think it’s necessary. Many people live independent and self-sufficient lives as married persons and believe this works better. I’m not here to place judgment on these folks or to necessarily weigh in on this discussion, but I will tell you that almost all people who go through a divorce in my experience do not share financial goals and do not communicate about finances regularly in the home. Whether or not there is a direct relationship between this phenomenon and the right of divorce in our country is something I’ll leave to you all to speculate on.

Financial transparency: a key to preventing divorce

Suffice it to say, financial problems can certainly bring about divorce. Without a doubt, financial infidelity and the hiding of assets and debts get almost as readily cause a divorce as relational or sexual infidelity, in my opinion. This means that if you want to do something to help you and your spouse avoid the prospects of divorce, you could always be completely transparent with one another about your finances. This may mean opening up about unpleasant subjects like debt, concerns about your job, and other financial mistakes you have made in your past. The benefit of doing so is that you and your spouse will be operating with the same information in mind and will not have questions or second-guessing one another when it comes to your life together as married persons.

Getting a prenup means discussing important matters before marriage. Similar to pre-marriage counseling, where couples learn budgeting techniques, it fosters communication and financial transparency. Communication and financial skills are crucial for a successful marriage and are honed over time.

In this way, negotiating a prenuptial agreement can help you to not only develop those communication skills. Still, it can also help you too learn about finances with your spouse and get on the same page as them before your marriage even begins. I would never say that negotiating and drafting a prenuptial agreement is the same thing as pre-marriage counseling. Still, in this context, I think an argument can be made that they offer similar benefits.

Planning beyond Texas law: the benefits of a prenup

The other key advantage that I see in drafting a prenuptial agreement is that you and your fiancé can chart a course for your life irrespective of the state of Texas and its laws regarding community property. People going through a divorce quickly learn that the state has relatively unique rules for dividing up marital property. These laws can benefit certain people and can harm, relatively speaking, other people in similar circumstances. While you and your spouse maintain some degree of autonomy over your case and property division, a judge will almost certainly follow Community property laws when dividing your marital assets.

This should make you at least a little bit nervous. While community property laws will guide how a judge divides a property, it is also true that the state of Texas allows family court judges a great deal of discretion when dividing up assets and debts between spouses in a trial setting. With that said, nobody truly knows how a judge will decide particular issues regarding property division. Not being able to plan for your post-divorce life until the period after your trial can be a little disconcerting for most people. Fortunately, if your divorce case were to go to a problem, you can rest assured that with a prenuptial agreement, the judge would not be able to rule upon anything other than issues regarding children.

Drafting a prenup is like doing homework in advance. Imagine if you could tackle assignments months early when you have less on your plate. Similarly, a prenup allows you to address property division and define separate assets before marriage, avoiding conflict during divorce. It’s a smart move.

Talking to your fiancé about a prenuptial agreement

That brings us to the topic for today’s blog post. Bringing up the subject of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé does not have to be an intimidating process. I think it is wise to consider a free nuptial agreement, especially if you and your fiancé have different levels of education, income-earning potential, and separate property. I would start this discussion to talk to your fiancé about how the prenuptial agreement may benefit them and leave your perspective out of it for a moment. Rather than focus on what you need to do, you should focus on getting the prenuptial agreement drafted and completed.

You were talking about your particular “why” in the context of a prenuptial agreement is a clever play, in my opinion, because from there, you can use that discussion as a jumping-off point to go through your overall financial goals for your spouse in the marriage. If you can be transparent with your fiancé about what your finances look like, it is more likely that he or she will do the same with you. From there, you can engage in an honest discussion about how both of you can protect each other from the potential pain, expense, and difficulty of a lengthy and unpleasant divorce by agreeing to a prenuptial agreement before getting married.

Conclusion

Despite the stigma surrounding prenuptial agreements, they can serve as valuable tools for couples to protect their assets and streamline the division of property in the event of divorce. Initiating a conversation about a prenup may seem daunting, but approaching it with honesty, respect, and transparency can foster open communication and ensure both parties are clear about their financial expectations and rights. By understanding how to bring up a prenuptial agreement in a constructive manner, couples can navigate this sensitive topic and make informed decisions that benefit their relationship in the long term.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material covered in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about Texas family law and our law office’s services to our clients. Our attorneys work in the family courts of Southeast Texas and take a great deal of pride in representing our community.

1. What does a prenuptial agreement do?

2. Prenuptial agreements in Texas

3. Prenuptial Agreements Can Be Voided in Texas

4. Can a Prenup Leave You With Nothing?

5. What Happens if You Divorce Someone With a Prenup?

6. Property Settlement Guide: How Assets are Divided After Divorce

7. 10 Ways to Prepare to Negotiate a Divorce Settlement

8. How to negotiate a divorce settlement with taxes in mind

9. How is Community Property Divided in a Divorce in Texas?

10. Maximizing your share of the marital estate division in a Texas divorce

Categories: Uncategorized

Get Your Right Attorney Today!

Schedule a free consultation with our team.

Share this article

Category

Categories