Getting Married? Prenups Aren’t Just For the Rich and Famous

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It’s such an emotionally charged issue. How do you recommend someone approach it?
Start talking about it as soon as you get engaged. This shouldn’t be a last-minute request for a signature outside the church. If you’re recently engaged, this is the perfect time to bring it up because you can use your taxes as an excuse. Next year, you’ll file jointly, so even though it’s uncomfortable, I suggest you exchange returns as a way to start the conversation.

Isn’t it expensive?
You get what you pay for. According to a new study by The Wedding Report, the average engagement ring costs over $3,300. By comparison, the attorney fees for a pre-nup will probably start at about $2,000. You’ll need to contact a family attorney and both you and your betrothed will both need your own lawyer. Don’t try the do-it-yourself route on this one. Your cousin the notary is not going to cut it. Anything you draft on your own will not stand up in court.

There are some online resources if you’re very concerned about costs and just need a simple agreement. For example, Legalzoom.com has a “prenup package” that starts at $600.

Any other tips?
Absolutely. When preparing a pre-nup, you’d of course address any property, retirement accounts, and any debt. But you should also consider sentimental belongings like furniture and other non-traditional things like pets. Sorting it out now could save you a major headache in the future.

Also, even if a couple doesn’t draft a formal prenuptial agreement, it is critical that they have a completely honest discussion about finances prior to the “I Do’s.” That means coming clean about any outstanding debts and setting some parameters about how you will manage your finances as a couple.

Many studies cite financial issues as one of the top causes of divorce—right alongside communication problems and infidelity. Why? Frequently, couples don’t realize they have very different values around money until they’ve tied the knot and co-mingled their accounts. Don’t make that mistake! If it’s a June wedding, first go for the April pre-nup.

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