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Prenuptial Agreements: Just for divorce or can they be positive?

 

Couples often ask our views about prenuptial agreements. Pre-nups are valuable for some couples. For others they are unnecessary.

 

Whether or not you decide on a pre-nup, you may find that considering the decision together may turn out to be something that will strengthen your relationship and marriage.

 

How many couples seek a pre-nup?

 

Of marriages where at least one partner has been previously married (and these are 40 percent of marriages), about 20 percent choose a pre-nup--vs. 5 percent of first marriages (Morgan and Turner, 2001).

 

What are their reasons?

 

The most obvious reason for a pre-nup is a desire to arrive at an agreement about how to handle a significant disparity in assets brought to the marriage by each partner.

 

People bringing children and existing assets to a marriage often would like to preserve these assets for their children in the event of divorce or death.

 

Pre-nups can also help couples where one partner is foregoing opportunity in the interest of the marriage: The classic case is when a partner leaves or downgrades a career to raise children, etc. But decisions to relocate for the marriage, taking on educational, business or other debt to benefit one partner also raise equity issues.

 

The best time to decide these issues most fairly is when you're feeling very positive about each other and have each other's best interests at heart-not when you're upset and in conflict.

 

Marriage is a contract, whether implicit or explicit. It has been said many times that the best contracts contain the terms for dissolving the contract. Deciding on a pre-nup is about whether you are satisfied to have terms settled by the law of the state where you happen to reside or whether you wish to substitute (to the degree permitted by law) your own judgment. So considering a pre-nup may be very sensible when you feel that the law doesn't apply well to your circumstances.

 

Isn't a pre-nup unromantic?

 

Yes, and beyond being merely unromantic, it can also be very sensitive. For many people it can raise issues of trust and commitment. If you really love one another and intend to stay together, do you really need a pre-nup? Doesn't it mean that you have reservations or doubts?

 

So how can discussing such sensitive, non-romantic issues actually strengthen our relationship?

 

Considering a pre-nup is just one among many non-romantic issues that couples should discuss together before marrying. Avoiding these financial, career and other issues is likely to lead to problems in the future. The last thing couples need is to be blind-sided after marriage.

 

It is very important for couples to have accurate expectations. Once they begin discussing these issues, most couples are surprised at how much they still have to learn about each other. And make no mistake, knowing each other well contributes mightily to marriage success.

 

It's okay to disagree. Successful marriage involves learning to manage your inevitable disagreements. You'll find our thoughts about how to manage differences discussed elsewhere at length. You may also find it helpful to consult our article about financial issues.

 

 

Click here for related reading and references list.

 

 

MST helps couples learn more about practical relationship success strategies that fit their relationship style and are comfortable for both genders. Click here to learn about the benefits of MST.

 

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Copyright 2003-2007, Patricia S. & Gregory A. Kuhlman. You may copy this article for non-commercial use provided that no changes are made and this copyright notice, author credit and stayhitched.com source citation are included.

 

 

 

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