So you’ve DTR – defined the relationship – and you’re engaged! Congratulations! While you’re at it, before you get married, you may also want to DTM – define the money.
Prenuptial agreements or “prenups” are a really smart way to protect the assets you’ve built. I spoke with a family law mediator earlier this week who said that she is seeing an upward trend of prenups, especially in clients who are in their mid-30s.
Now that marriage ages are trending upward, couples have more time to build businesses and the foundations for wealth prior to getting married – which means they also have more to protect and think about in addition to the emotional side of marriage. Unfortunately divorce rates seem to be fairly consistent. These are just facts.
I asked her if she feels like this is a difficult conversation for couples to have – after all, they have decided to spend the rest of their lives together. She recommends that couples begin by having an open conversation about how the finances will be handled during the marriage. Who is going to be in charge of what bills? What accounts are going to be joint or stay separate? Determining together how you would like your finances and responsibilities to look during marriage can naturally flow into expectations and concerns for your finances in the event of divorce.
It’s not about trying to take things away, it’s about maintaining control over what you’ve built and coming together to set a fair expectation that both spouses agree to going forward. Each person must be represented by an attorney to make sure they understand the long-term implications of any agreement and for the prenup to hold up in court down the road.
As with most things – open and vulnerable communication is key. And while we all wish that no marriages would end in divorce, having difficult discussions on the front end can save a lot of heart ache, time, and money during divorce.
One great way to enter into the prenup process is by speaking with a family law mediator to see how they could help facilitate the process with your future spouse, attorneys, and possibly a financial advisor.