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Should You Get a Prenup? Here's Everything You Need to Know

You don't have to be Jay-Z and Beyoncé to need one.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: @lomurph via Instagram

Aside from "we're overbudget," one of the most dreaded phrases anyone can say during wedding planning is "prenuptial agreement." That is, if that phrase is said at all. In the past, many engaged couples wouldn't broach the subject, whether out of fear of insulting their partner, figuring "why bother, we're not rich," or having an overly optimistic view that their marriage would last forever. But that's changing—divorce attorneys are reporting a big jump in prenups. It may not be romantic, but getting a prenup is smart and realistic. Take a look at some important facts below before deciding whether or not you need one.

 

Divorce Lawyers Share the Secret to a Happy Marriage

 

A prenup clearly defines your wishes.

At its core, a prenup isn't about mistrust or revenge—it's about making sure any personal or business assets the bride or groom had before marriage, and doesn't want to own jointly with their new spouse, will still be all theirs if they divorced. It's especially important if one person has significantly more assets (money, real estate, jewelry) than the other. And it's better to figure out who gets what when you've still got each other's best interests at heart, rather than when the relationship is coming to an end. A prenup can also detail financial arrangements during married life, such as who will do the banking and manage any investments.

 

It's customized to your needs.

Like a wedding, a prenup is customized to reflect a specific bride and groom. Look at an online template then build from there. Address whatever financial matters are important to each of you then put it in writing. Maybe it's that neither one of you will be getting spousal support (alimony) if the marriage goes south or that your kids from a previous relationship, not your new spouse, will be the beneficiaries of your pension plan and 401(k) account.

 

A prenup is essential for certain people.

If you already have considerable assets, including retirement savings, own a business, have children, or are expecting to get a major inheritance in the future, legal experts advise getting a prenup. If one of you has major debt (credit card, mortgage), it can be kept separate so the other spouse doesn't have to share debt liability.

 

There are situations that can invalidate it.

Don't assume you're good to go just because you had a lawyer draw up a prenup. There can be circumstances under which a prenup can be revoked, including if it's not signed before the wedding ceremony takes place, one of you was forced to sign it, or it's not in writing (you can't sign a video). A prenup could also be thrown out by a judge if it contains false information (like one of you hasn't fully disclosed all their assets or underestimated their value), you weren't given time to read or contemplate the agreement, one or both of you didn't have your own separate attorney present at signing, or the paperwork was written up or filed incorrectly.

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About the Author

Nancy Mattia

Though Nancy has been writing about weddings for years, she admits that watching a bride walk down the aisle—even on TV—still makes her tear up. The New York-area writer's other favorite wedding moments are when the groom sees the bride for the first time, hearing the toasts, and when she sees a waiter with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres walking towards her. 

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