Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hell Yes I Want A Pre-Nup

Lots of people have this fearful notion of what a pre-nup does. That it will stipulate that you can never gain more than ten pounds, that it will assign you to clean the litter box forever. I wonder what these people have been sniffing, and if so, would they send me some too? Do people really become insane when they come within ten feet of a legal document?

Boyfriend and I have talked now and then about what would happen if we broke up. This is not done in a morbid sense, or as part of a fight. This is sort of the pre-nup for the un-nupped. We specifically chose the price range for our apartment so that I would not be forced to break the lease if he were not helping with the rent, and we know whose furniture is whose, and that he would take the cat and I would keep the guinea pigs. Boyfriend would probably get all the hot spices on the spice shelf.

Do we plan these things because we are each secretly plotting to run off with the hot spices? No. The principal reason to have a pre-nup is to protect one another from your future selves who may not love one another anymore. Right now, things are rosy, and we are agreeable towards one another. We share the same bag of toothpick-flosser thingies. But in the future, anything can happen. We'd rather have these informal chats about who gets the big stockpot now, than when we are angry, upset, and bitter towards one another. How are we going to negotiate the little things when we failed to negotiate on the biggest thing of all - our relationship?

And things can only escalate during a divorce where children, real estate, or significant sums of money are involved. Boyfriend and I do not have any of these things, but if we did, we would want to work something out before any of them were acquired. This is a key tenet for successfully using a pre-nup or other type of property-dividing agreement as part of managing the health of your relationship: you need to talk about it BEFORE things get bad, not after, and not under coercion. Most judges won't actually uphold a prenup signed the night before the wedding, as it is generally argued that there is no way the coerced party could back out and save face (as well as not lose thousands of dollars in deposits.) This issue should be addressed before the wedding invitations go out.

A pre-nup's principal purpose is to protect your spouse from the future you who may not love them anymore, by making promises with the present you, who does love them and want what is best for them. The idea is to be like the first letter-writer in this article, working things out before things get hairy, and not the second. (Thanks to Boston Gal's Open Wallet for the Herald link) However, if you were an inconsiderate ass from the beginning.. maybe you just shouldn't get married. Sorry!

10 comments:

Nicole said...

I love your blog, K! It's so well written and explanatory. You're going to do great things with your life - you're smart, entrepreneurial and responsible. Congrats on the great site and keep up the good work.

- Nicole
aka. The Budgeting Babe

JLP said...

Personally, I'm not a fan of pre-nups for people who are getting married for the first time. I think people should go into marriage respecting it enough to not even consider a divorce. A pre-nup will do nothing to help a marriage.

Those are my thoughts. Take them for what they are worth.

JLP

AllFinancialMatters

Kira said...

I am not a risk-taker in life (well, other than my asset allocation.) I practically look forward to buying insurance. I want to be insured against as many of life's problems as possible. So this is kind of an extension of that mindset - that I am protecting both my future husband and myself from each other.

Tiredbuthappy said...

Great post. I personally think if your assets and earning power are roughly equivalent, you may be okay without a prenup unless you live in a state that notoriously favors one spouse over the other. But if somebody's expecting to inherit a bundle, or one partner has lots of debt and the other doesn't, a prenup is great insurance. And I don't think it's necessarily bad for the marriage because it can also serve the purpose of spelling out who is responsible for what finanacially within the marriage.

I'm really nervous about prenups that are not strictly financial, though. And sunset provisions on prenups just seem like a bad idea.

ncnblog said...

This will probably fall flat, coming from my old guy conservative viewpoint... but living with the guy before you get married, talking about pre-nups... I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but, my wife and I have been married now for 10 years, and we dated for 5 years before that, and the thought of a pre-nup never even crossed our minds... wow, if you trust someone to sleep with you in the same bed, you should be able to trust them with your finances... just my out-dated opinion, i guess...
slinking away to the old folks home... ncn

Jason said...

Great post. I guess I am a little old fashioned too. I think the only way I will ever get one is if I get married to someone with whom there is an enormous disparity of income and assets between us. If we have even remotely similar I will most likely avoid one. The way I look at it is that if I feel the need to get one then I probably shouldn't marry her yet. Perhaps just stay living together, unmarried for the time being.

Oh, and I hate insurance :)

NinjaPigeon said...

Yah, ncnblog, but what if you no longer trust them in your bed? That's the situation the pre-nup is designed to handle. If things never went badly, the pre-nup wouldn't be an issue.

However, that being said, I'm against them too, I think. Hardly seems like you can commit yourself fully to a marriage if you are already planning how to divide the stuff if/when it fails.

Chris said...

I agree with you...

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend... Correction, now fiancé and I have been together for 8 years now and just popped the question a few months back. I was more than hesitant at first, but I love the man, and I just told myself, my parents screwed up... And had me and my brother in the middle of their divorce. God forbid something happen and there's children involved, well I wasnt going to let that happen. So, everything went quite smoothly on the bumpy road to love, our engagement, and marriage.

Toccara Mclachlan said...

“The principal reason to have a pre-nup is to protect one another from your future selves who may not love one another anymore.” - That’s a great way to put it. Nobody around us is psychic enough to know how the union would end, and let's face it, even truest loves fall apart. I would rather negotiate with documents like these while everything is still peachy and our minds aren't clouded with anger and bitterness.


Toccara Mclachlan