The Elephant in the Room: How to Talk About Prenups


So you’re engaged—congratulations! Take your time to enjoy the moment before you jump into the busyness of planning and celebrating and start considering some of the bigger questions about your future. Will you have kids? Have you decided where you’ll live? Do you have a plan for your finances as a couple? And then there’s the looming question of whether or not to sign a prenup. As a newly engaged couple, it’s hard to imagine there could ever be an end to your union and having a discussion around what would happen if your marriage does break up may feel like a mood dampener—but it doesn’t have to be.

Prenups Becoming More Popular

So what is a prenup? It’s an agreement that a couple signs in advance of their marriage determining the division of assets in the case of divorce. It often outlines each party’s financial details and exists to protect the monetary well-being of both people in the relationship.

Aren’t there couples with a disparity in wealth? While prenups are often associated with mistrust and protecting one partner’s funds from the other, they are losing their stigma. In fact, more and more people in the U.S. are choosing to sign one before the big day; 62% of lawyers saw a rise in prenups between 2013 and 2016. Part of this uptick stems from the fact that people are marrying later in life, and have more assets to their name by the time they start talking about marriage. And since one third of American millennials are children of divorce, it’s no surprise that they’re looking to prepare themselves in case a split does happen.

Sound unromantic? Funny enough, national divorce rates are dropping, but that hasn’t stopped prenups from becoming more popular. Having this safety net in place is proving to be a practical approach to protect both individuals if they decide to go their separate ways.

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How to Have the Conversation

Raising the topic of a prenup with your partner can feel intimidating, and that’s okay. It’s important to make sure that you approach it with an open mind, and tackle any reservations that arise in the conversation as a unit.

1. Set the Stage Early

If you think a prenup is the right thing for you and your partner, make sure you start by asking them how they feel about the concept. This can help set the tone and expose any vulnerable feelings either of you may have towards them. It can also give you the opportunity to express your point of view in a casual way, allowing you to set the stage for a more in-depth discussion later on.

2. Emphasize the Benefits

Make sure you’re taking the time to communicate the benefits of this approach. Ultimately a prenup is there to protect you both. Does your partner have ownership in their own business? Are you putting money aside for a dream project? Having a prenup in place can make sure that these things aren’t compromised in the case of divorce.

Prenups are also important if you’re planning on having a family. If one of you chooses to stay at home to raise your children, they can protect that person from needing to jump back into the workforce right away and let them still focus their time on the kids.

Splitting up is a stressful situation for everyone involved. In signing a prenuptial agreement, partners can establish a clear path for how to approach a divorce and nip some of that stress in the bud. And having these logistics in place early on can even take pressure off the relationship, so that the issues you face don’t become bigger than they are.

3. Take a Collaborative Approach

Take your partner to meet with an attorney or financial advisor so that you can both have an open conversation about what a prenup would look like—and get unbiased, professional insight on how else getting married might impact your finances including taxes and retirement funds. This can help ensure that you both have input into the conversation, and give you a safe space to raise concerns without putting either of you on the defensive. By working collaboratively, you’ll also make it easier for each of you to sign the dotted line.

Citadel understands that there are a lot of things for you and your partner to think about now that you’re engaged. In this time of financial change, consider talking to one of our financial advisors to explore the options that you have as a couple. If you have any questions, call or visit us today.

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