Most couples, planning to get married in today’s society, should have a prenup. This is particularly true for those couples bringing significant assets into their marriage. In that case, a prenuptial is like an insurance policy. No one ever intends to have an emergency, but it’s very good to have insurance to minimize the damage if an emergency does occur.
However, to discuss a prenuptial agreement, you have to talk about divorce. And that’s a topic of discussion most couples looking to get married don’t want to have. The following are a few suggestions for how a couple can thread their way through the treacherous course of discussing and negotiating a prenuptial agreement:
1. Start the conversation early. Bring it up with your partner during your initial post-engagement talks about what you want for your marriage. Many couples undergo some kind of religious counseling before they get married. If they are so predisposed, this type of counseling would be a good place to bring up the issue. For younger couples fresh out of college or grad school, discussion about student loan debt may create a good segue to a prenuptial agreement. Who wants to get stuck paying off their partner’s $100,000.00 private school debt? Not many people would.
2. Try your best to plan how you will talk about the prenuptial agreement and what you want.
3. Timing is everything. Don’t wait until you’re in a heated discussion to bring up the desire for a prenup. Also don’t use the words “I want a prenuptial agreement.”
4. Present the topic before you present the prenuptial agreement document. Discuss the prenup with your fiancée before the agreement is drawn up. Talking to your fiancée about the agreement will promote a feeling of equality in the negotiations. The ability to work on the document in a cooperative way is usually appreciated much more than being presented with a document as a “done deal.”
5. Remind your partner that all marriages end in either divorce or death. Even if you don’t want your spouse to predecease you, responsible couples do have wills and estate plans. The reason for doing so is to prevent the state legislature from deciding what will happen with your property in the event that you die. In Florida, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, then the State of Florida will tell you what rights and obligations you have if your marriage ends in a divorce. A prenuptial agreement provides a couple with control of their future in the event of a divorce.
6. Don’t have a “take it or leave it” approach. Avoid at all costs handing a document to your fiancée and saying this is the prenuptial agreement, sign it or we don’t get married. This is a situation that is difficult for your fiancée psychologically because having to sign an agreement without being involved in a two‑way negotiation with input from your fiancée takes your fiancée completely out of the loop and will not be well-received. Because a prenup is about you and your fiancée, both of you should be included in the entire process.
7. Manage your emotional triggers. Be aware of your own reactions as you listen and try to respond to any concerns or questions in a sensitive way. Monitor your tone.
8. During the process, reassure your partner continuously. Let them know that your intention is to protect their financial independence as well as yours. Be open about what you want. Start with an honest conversation with your spouse-to‑be about why you want a prenuptial agreement. Explain your family history, beliefs or experiences which have resulted in your desire to have this type of protection. This is particularly important when you’re talking about a sensitive term such as alimony. Help your partner understand why this issue is important to you.
9. Listen to your partner’s concerns. Your partner will have concerns and needs that differ from or contradict your own. Consequently, listening to their perspective with an open mind will make the conversation go better. When disagreements do come up (and they will), look at the disagreements as an opportunity for improvement. Try not to get worked up. Not everyone will take this conversation well. If you can remain calm, your conversations will be much smoother. The greater the emotional strain in the conversation by either party in the conversation, the less people will hear regardless of the emotion. If someone gets angry break off the communications and then try again later.
10. You may also desire to employ professionals to assist you in the negotiations. Many prenuptial agreements have been successfully negotiated between a couple through the use of a mediator or through the collaborative process.
11. Avoid unsolicited advice. While we always seek advice from friends or family on important decisions in our lives, remember that the prenup is about you and your fiancée. No one understands your goals and priorities better than the two of you.
Discussing a prenuptial agreement with your fiancée can be a very difficult process. However, following the above advice should assist you and your fiancée in negotiating an agreement that works for both of you in the event that your marriage ends in a divorce some years later.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney, Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication and preparation, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce and marital law while delivering excellent personal service. If you’re thinking about having a prenuptial agreement or are involved in negotiating a prenuptial agreement or have questions about any other family law issue, then immediately contact the Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561‑478‑0312 to schedule a consultation.