Some of the common negative stereotypes about prenups include that they are unromantic, that they are a sign someone isn’t fully committed, or even that marriages with prenups are more likely to fail. Are these stereotypes true?
Let’s take a look at the evidence about prenups. Prenups are becoming more common than ever before, and it seems fewer people are scared away by the negative stereotypes of the past. One reason for this could be that prenups are more convenient for today’s marriages. People are getting married later when they are already established in their careers and financially independent. [https://ourworldindata.org/marriages-and-divorces#marriages-are-becoming-less-common] Dual earners with higher incomes may want to have a prenup drafted to protect their prior earnings. People are also getting divorced at a higher rate later in life. [https://legaljobs.io/blog/divorce-rate-in-america/#:~:text=So%2Dcalled%20gray%20divorce%20rates,divorced%20now%20than%20ever%20before.] Remarriage after a later in life divorce is a gamble with your resources. If you have children from a previous marriage you may want to make a prenup to make sure they get a significant portion of your assets, as most laws will award your assets to your spouse if you get a divorce.
If people are less afraid of prenups and they make sense for practical reasons, does this still make prenups overly pragmatic, unromantic and even a cause of divorce?
There is a lot of evidence to show that prenups can actually help strengthen a marriage. The number one thing couples fight about, according to recent research, is money. [https://www.ramseysolutions.com/company/newsroom/releases/money-ruining-marriages-in-america] Even if couples have more money this doesn’t prevent conflict about finances. Poor communication about money is the major factor behind these fights. Having a prenup drafted is a way of opening up the conversation about money before the marriage, so a prenup could actually help a couple communicate better about their finances and avoid problems down the line. It can also help set each parties’ expectations for the future and how finances will be managed.
As mentioned, prenups are becoming increasingly common, and many Millennials and younger people in particular want to get one, wish they had got one, or wouldn’t marry someone who refused a prenup. [https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/you-should-probably-sign-a-prenup-it-might-just-save-your-marriage/] While there hasn’t been extensive research on statistical correlations between prenups and marriage longevity or divorce, an analysis of Reddit threads found that more people viewed prenups positively than negatively, and that these people were more likely to use metaphorical terms to discuss the prenup, such as describing it as insurance or rainy day protection. [https://news.ncsu.edu/2021/06/talking-about-prenups/] It seems like prenups are undergoing a re-evaluation in which they can actually be seen as a sensible and caring precaution for couples who want to hope for the best but make a plan for the worst.
In a recent survey of expert counseling professionals, 80% of experts said that prenups had no predictable impact on a couple’s likelihood of divorce. [https://www.yourtango.com/heartbreak/expert-survey-reveals-reason-couples-divorce] The counseling professionals also said that communication problems were the number one cause of divorce. If communication is the life blood of a relationship and money is a topic that can cause conflict, communicating about finances early on in the relationship could be a smart move to help your relationship withstand financial stressors in the future.
If you are thinking about getting a prenup you don’t have to rush straight into it. You can ease into the process by having a conversation with your soon to be spouse about their finances, their values, their comfort zone and boundaries. If you haven’t made a prenup and you are already married, you can make a postnuptial agreement. Or if you have already made a prenup and it isn’t satisfactory, you can renegotiate the agreement, which may become a postnuptial agreement now that you’re married.
It’s important that you engage a highly experienced Massachusetts family law attorney-mediator to help you draft your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. In the event that you do get a divorce, poorly drafted prenups or postnups may not stand up in court. Postnuptial agreements in particular are held up to scrutiny. If you are ready to make a prenup, please contact us to see how we can help you and your spouse or spouse-to-be to have the important conversations that can lead to a carefully drafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement bringing you security and peace of mind.