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Discuss: Sign on the Dotted Line

Earlier this week, I was having drinks with some girlfriends when we got onto the subject of pre-nuptial agreements.  Specifically, whether you would ever sign one.  Four women, four very disparate opinions.

Number One took a romantic view of love and marriage, and extolled her hatred for pre-nups.  “It cheapens love to talk about it ending before it’s begun,” she told us.  She also questioned whether she could ever marry a man who asked her to sign a pre-nup because if her soon-to-be husband sees her as a potential “gold digger,” that means he doesn’t really love/trust her.

Number Two also hated pre-nups but saw the issue a bit differently.  She argued that any man who was building a “financial escape hatch” wouldn’t be fully committed to building a strong marriage.  To paraphrase, “If he thinks that he can leave at anytime with his bank account intact, it will make it easier for him to ‘pull the rip cord’ if things get rocky.”  

Number Three was unremorsefully pro pre-nup.  She reasoned that people stay in dysfunctional, unhappy marriages because of money all the time, take money out of the equation, and the only reason to stay together is for love. “Money is business, marriage is love, let’s keep them separate.”

Number Four wasn’t as gung-ho about it.  Though she saw the pre-nup as a bit of a downer, she’d sign one if asked.  “I wouldn’t be thrilled to sign on the line, but if I’m marrying for love and not money, why not?”  

We then spent a good 25 minutes debating pre-nuptial agreements as played out in pop culture.  “Was it okay to sign if you felt your pre-nup provided fair compensation in the wake of a divorce like Charlotte York on SATC?”  

“Was it okay to put in a fidelity clause charging your spouse more for cheating like Catharine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas?”

“If the marriage ended badly, would you spend time and money contesting the pre-nup?”

“Was a man or woman with money foolish to marry without one ala Kobe Bryant?”

“Is it different to ask a woman to sign one than to ask a man to sign one?”

The opinions about these questions were just as varied.  Before long, we ended up debating the inevitable final question: Is being asked to sign a pre-nup a deal breaker?  

Both Friend Number One and Friend Number Two argued that it was.

So here is our discussion question for today: With which friend do you most agree?  And some additional questions…

1) Would you be offended if your potential spouse asked you to sign a pre-nup?,  2) Would you sign a pre-nup, offended or not? and 3) Would you be willing to walk away from the engagement if your fiance insisted you sign and you didn’t want to, or conversely, if you asked your fiance to sign and he/she refused?

Leave your thoughts in the comments, the girls and I are really anxious to hear your thoughts.  

(In fact, the second the discussion hit an intractable stalemate, Friend Number Two insisted that we take the fight to the blog.  “Let your readers decide,” she said.  The friend with the most commenters in agreement wins a bottle of very good champagne.)

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  1. Christy says:

    #2!

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  2. Married without says:

    I agree most with Number Four. When we got married, I made more and I come from a better off family (not incredibly wealthy, but a lot of land that I'd hate to lose in a settlement). Sometimes I wish I'd asked him to sign a prenup. But I didn't, and I'm glad I didn't, because Number Two has a point – hubby and I had a really rough patch for almost two years, and I would have pulled the cord if I wasn't so financially attached to him (school = full financial reliance).

    However if he'd had more money and asked me to sign a prenup I absolutely would have so long as the agreement provided for me in the end (or him in reverse). Marriage can be wonderful and it can be miserable, and love isn't always prevalent. But money (or the need for money, or the want for money, etc.) is.

    I think you can easily be pragmatic and fair, and if both parties go in with open hearts, open minds and good counsel, a prenup might feel sad at first, but is worth signing.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  3. Shannon says:

    I would sign a prenup if there were family issues involved. For example, if my spouse had family money, a trust, or had inherited property. I would feel that those assets would be his and his alone, and I would have no rights to it. Additionally, if my spouse had children from a previous marriage, I would sign a prenup to protect their inheritance. It's just the honorable thing to do.

    I did not sign a prenup when I got married a year ago, and did not sign one for my first marriage, either. In neither case were there children or family assets to protect. And in my divorce, both of us went out of our way to behave honorably and split our assets equitably.

    Ultimately, it's less about prenup, and more about one simple rule: If your spouse-to-be is of such low character that he or she would screw you over in the divorce, DON'T GET MARRIED! And if they're perfectly decent, but you believe you'd get screwed, then work on your trust issues before you get married.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  4. Airlie says:

    I feel as though the conversation you had with your friends centered around the woman being asked to sign a pre-nup. While there is nothing wrong with having that conversation, it ignores the possibility that a woman would ask a man to sign a pre-nup. As a woman I go back-and-forth about whether or not I would want my fiance to sign one. Is it completely un-romantic? Maybe. But, I also think it is practical and in the end just makes good financial sense.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  5. ADL says:

    I agree with @Airlie. What if I, as a woman (who has family assets), asked my future-husband to sign a pre-nup? I'm not in that state right now but I think it would take a lot of discussion and I would hope that discussion would take place prior to an engagement. Right now I am pro pre-nup, meaning I would ask him to sign one. But that could change, depending on the one.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  6. A says:

    I definitely agree with Number 1. It would be a deal breaker to me. Fortunately for me, my husband and I didn't have anywhere near the resources to worry about when we married, so it was a non-issue!

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  7. RMS says:

    I think my view is closest to Number 3. Debt you take on and money you earn/are given before marriage is yours, not your spouse's. I see a pre-nup as a legal and official way to say so. If you're marrying someone for the right reasons, then the idea of a pre-nup shouldn't freak you out. It was different back when people got married at 20 and started their adult lives together. Now, it's more common for people to have substantial work experience, advanced degrees, and the debt and salary that goes along with those achievements. I think that the pre-nup conversation is a natural and important part of discussing finances and future with a potential spouse.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  8. S says:

    I agree with Friend 3 and the posters above who mentioned you forgot to pose the question the other way around. I make significantly more than my boyfriend and I've told him that if we get married I will ask him to sign a pre-nup.

    I believe people do stay in unhealthy marriages due to money issues and I don't want to ever feel trapped. I have also seen some nasty divorces and if the money question is solved ahead of time than perhaps the divorce can be more peaceful (especially important if children are involved).

    I've worked hard to build up the wealth I have, and although I wouldn't want to leave my future husband on the street after a divorce, I also don't want to feel like I'm losing everything I have earned. That being said, I hope we could sign the pre-nup and very quickly forget about it.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  9. BCN says:

    I am married, and I have a pre-nup. It protects our individual assets, but also does something more. In the event of a separation, I won't be responsible for his debts racked up pre-marriage (mostly educational). In an age where many people come in with $100K of college or graduate school debt, I think that's fairly significant.

    We love eachother, and don't expect to divorce, but hey, he could sustain a traumatic brain injury an turn into a different person, and in that (unlikely) event, I want to be protected.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  10. SarahT says:

    As a romantic, it's hard for me to say but I agree with Friend 4. The numbers don't lie and I don't want to be in a miserable financial situation should I find myself in one of the 50% of marriages that end in divorce. I feel like it's one of those Murphy's Law kind of things – if your marriage is perfect and you live happily every after, you'll never need the pre-nup you signed; if your marriage ends badly, you never have the pre-nup you need.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  11. Dina says:

    When I was getting married, my husband (an attorney) REALLY wanted a prenup. He wanted me to have a “get out of jail free” card in case (his theory) he had some kind of traumatic brain injury and turned into a different person. I said that was ridiculous. He persisted. We talked to a close relative, who is a DC divorce attorney, and strongly recommended against it. Her theory is that only the wealthy or second marriage (especially when children are involved) is he only time it's acceptable. I don't know if I agree with any friend. My husband's theory as fairly convincing, since it had nothing to do with money, just enough scary law-school issues. However, my cousin's theory for 2nd marriages is VERY interesting. If I did have children coming into a marriage I would want them protected.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  12. LL says:

    My view is probably closest to Friend 4. I had built up more savings than my husband prior to marriage, mostly due to saving and leading a debt free life throughout graduate school. He was not as well off financially but mostly because the company he tried to start folded leaving him with debt. Given that, I didn't care about a pre-nup when we got married. We discussed money and we definitely had two different points of view when it came to it, but he was also perfectly fine with me taking over all the financial decisions as we moved forward. His point of view definitely aligned though with Friend 2.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  13. Chelle says:

    “Money is business, marriage is love, let's keep them separate.”

    Can I post this as the header of my pre-nup??

    My mother loved my father and would never have condoned a pre-nup because it contemplated divorce. When he left her, he was able (thanks to community property laws) to take half of her assets with him (even those he had specifically refused to support, such as the investment property she purchased with her money and in her name alone during their marriage). Love is wonderful and of course I don't intend to marry with an eye to divorce, and hope that any pre-nup I sign is buried along with my hubby and I who die hand in hand and still madly in love at ripe old 3-digit ages but I've seen enough women left unprotected when men decide to up and leave (or worse, afraid to leave because they don't know how assets would be divided) to believe that signing a pre-nup is a practical matter, like blood-testing or having protected sex. In some places a husband can claim that he deserves half the value of your earned professional degree! A girl's gotta look out for herself and her future no matter how great things seem in the moment.

    The decision to negotiate and sign a pre-nup should be an exercise that allows a couple to openly discuss often touchy issues (“no, you can NEVER have my great-grandfather's watch” or “a one-night-stand is NOT the same as a long-term affair”) BEFORE walking down the aisle and make written commitments that aren't clouded by romantic visions of happily ever after.

    And in response to Number Two- the prenup isn't necessarily a “financial escape hatch” if it's fair- it could simply ensure that if SHE's in the wrong, she doesn't milk him for all he's got just because he can. (I've got brothers and they need to protect themselves too!)

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  14. Pro prenup says:

    I most closely align with number 3, and the comment by RMS. I think any assets or debts you bring into the relationship are yours and yours alone. I wouldn't want to be on the hook for someone else's debts post divorce, just like any assets brought in pre-marriage the other person should have no claim on. That being said it brings up an important discussion to have around your finances. And if there are substantial debts (or assets) brought into the marriage, as a couple you'll need to come to a concensus about how they will be handled moving forward in your relationship.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  15. E says:

    I agree with Friend 3. My parents divorced because of money, so I would never want that situation in my marriage.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  16. Kate says:

    I would have to say, I think I am closest to friend 2. I'm not sure if I see it as an escape hatch, although it definitely occurs to me that way, but it mostly to me seems like it's starting your marriage saying “These things are mine, those things are yours.” That type of division seems hard to overcome to me. I have lived with my boyfriend for a while, we have plans to get married one day when we can afford a lavish wedding 🙂 but despite not having combined finances, I think it is important for both of us to see our finances as a whole, because they impact us both. If he OR I racks up a ton of credit card debt, I personally would want him to see it as his duty to help me out, just as I would not want to say “Oh YOU did that, that is YOUR problem.” To me it just sets a TONE that “Well, I'll be married to you, but I don't consider all aspects of this a partnership.”

    Although, that said, I do think the situation is different when you are discussing children/previous marriage situations or also “family” type money. But again, those issues are now incorporating a bunch of people who are not necessarily a part of the partnership of that particular marriage, and so to my way of thinking, do not have to be held to the same rule.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  17. Ellie says:

    Call me a horrible feminist, but I totally agree with number one. My fiance and I joked about a prenup for about .5 seconds, and I think I was the one who brought it up. We both have well over 100,000 (each) in student loan debt, and he is going to out-earn me by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The fact that it didn't even cross his mind to ask me to sign one meant a lot to me.

    I don't think money and love are really separate. No matter how much you earn, money and what to do with it is always going to be a huge factor in almost everyone's marriage. Perhaps its overly traditional view of thinking about things, but my fiance is very excited to help me pay off my loans. It's part of the package of overall awesomeness that is me, that he gets to marry.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  18. LPU says:

    I totally agree with Friend No. 3. I have significant student loan debt. That is my responsibility, and mine alone. I think part of it is my Nana & Mom's 'damn it I'll do it myself' mentality. Given the ongoing issues money caused following my parents divorce, there are so many issues that would have come to a more positive resolution with a pre-nup.

    “Money is business, marriage is love, let's keep them separate.”

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  19. r says:

    I think it depends on too many factors to give a blanket answer, but in general I don't think a pre-nup would be a deal breaker. I think they can be important, particularly if kids are involved, or if there's a great disparity in wealth/debt between the two people. Same goes for if one partner is planning to be a stay-at-home parent or something similar. But if I were in a relationship where both of us made/had about the same amount of money, had the same amount of debt, and both planned to work for the foreseeable future, I'd probably be concerned if my partner asked for a pre-nup.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  20. L says:

    My husband asked me to sign a pre-nup and I will admit that at first I was offended (a la Friend Number One). However, my husband has family money, trusts, and ownership interests in family businesses that would be in jeopardy in the event of a divorce. He was actually very embarassed to ask me about it, but we ended up approaching it as a dialogue and I have no doubt that our relationship is stronger for it. The bottom line is that the process of discussing it was important – we made sure that we both felt comfortable with the document before we signed it. Plus, once we signed it, we put it in a drawer and have (until this post) forgotten all about it. Like Friend Number Three said, “Money is business, marriage is love, let's keep them separate.”

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  21. RAR says:

    My fiance's family is very wealthy. He is not spoiled by his parents in the traditional sense of the word (i.e., he works and always has, has never had an allowance, trust fund, family credit card, etc.), but he will be once (god forbid) his parents pass away. I get along great with his family and there has never been indication of them thinking that I am in the relationship for the wrong reasons. All of that being said, I would absolutely refuse to sign a prenup. For some reason, and maybe I can't even really articulate why, but I would find it very insulting. This is probably old fashioned, but I hate the stigma of “if things don't work out . . .” that prenups carry. If they want to protect their family money and pre-marriage assets, I completely understand — but do it by means of estate, trust and gift planning (I am a tax attorney, so this thought is kind of at the forefront of my mind). As far of college/grad school debts, I haven't and don't planned on signing on as a joint holder and I don't live in a community property state so I would only be partially/potentially liable for any marital debts in the event of a divorce. I'm interested, for those who say they are doing it for debt protection, have you signed on to pre-marital debts of your spouse?

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  22. K says:

    At first I thought I'd be totally on board with friend #1 a la Charlotte's initial reaction on SATC but after reading through several reader comments I feel like I'm jumping into friend #3's camp. That being said I would understand a woman (or man's) surprise at the initial thought of a prenup but once all aspects are considered I think he/she may change their tune.

    Agreeing with Chelle I can say that if you go into it planning to never use it (because you're blissfully in love) but being realistic knowing you never do know what happens. “Money is business, marriage is love, let's keep them separate.”

    This is a non-issue for my fiance and I as neither have assets or debt to protect but I think it is a very interesting concept and something that needs to be examined closely.

    On a fun note, if anyone is looking for an easy, fun read I suggest The Pre-Nup by Beth Kendrick.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  23. shiksa goddess says:

    In the Jewish tradition there's a really interesting wedding contract called a Ketubah. In ancient times, it was a document that outlined what a bride was due in the event her husband died or divorced her. (Presumably it might be cash or something like a certain number of sheep out of his flock.) It took care of the “business is business” part and gave women certain leverage against unfaithful husbands.

    Nowadays when a couple draws up a Ketubah it's usually more like an illuminated copy of their personal wedding vows, in English and Hebrew. They're often really beautiful and they hang in your home where any visitors can read them. I like the idea because there's something both sweet and official about signing your vows themselves on the dotted line.

    History:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketubah

    A couple modern ones:
    https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1av6B4_7tHU/TqoDKeLwtgI/AAAAAAAAGzo/cUBssvS4AKw/s1600/IMG_5345.JPG
    https://www.judithjosephstudio.com/gallery.html

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  24. r says:

    One other point– I think the “stuff” inside a pre-nup is probably more important than the concept of the agreement. The “stuff” should be logical, fair and compassionate. If its not, it probably tells you a great deal about your potential mate.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  25. b23 says:

    Friend #1!

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  26. BS says:

    I agree with Number 2, but I think the answer is “it depends.” My fiance and I both come from well-off families, but my family is more of the “do it yourself” mentality whereas he has had continual financial support from his parents well through his twenties. I paid for law school myself and have around $50k in loans. He has zero debt (so jealous) and slightly more in cash savings/401K. We both make roughly the same amount of money and plan to be joint breadwinners. So I kind of feel like there is very little utility that would come from us getting a prenup. And quite honestly, if he doesn't know me well enough that he would ever think I'm “saddling” him with my SL debt and would insist on a prenup, then that's not the type of person I thought he was. No prenup for us – although I think this is predicated on us having very similar financial situations and being extremely open with each other about the state of our finances.

    That being said, my tune has changed. I used to be the one who would have insisted on a prenup. I had come into a fairly sizable inheritance when I was younger, but thanks to some family issues most of it has evaporated.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  27. Trang says:

    Pro pre nup…I know waaaay too many people that have ended up divorced, with the splits being just awful. I think it protects both parties in the event things don't work out. If you never need it, great, but if things don't work out, better to have a plan to get out of the marriage with both parties relatively intact then all hell breaking loose!

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  28. LGF says:

    While I didn't have time to read all the comments, I did read the post and one thing really struck me – your conversatino centered only around how you would feel about a pre-nup that the man asked the woman to sign.

    I'm married and we did have the pre-nup discussion and sign the document before our big day. We were both pretty adamant about a pre-nup – it's not only a man who has something to lose in the case of divorce sans pre-nup. By only thinking of it through the hurt woman's eyes, you forget about the fact that nowadays many women are the breadwinners, that the jobs of the future are the jobs that women excel in, and that both people in the relationship can live up to their biggest potential (not just the one with the penis).

    I think that signing a pre-nup is actually really romantic. It takes the finances and property and anything else you put into that agreement out of the equation – it's already been decided. What's yours will always be yours and what's mine will always be mine – but the love that's ours will lead us into the future, without worrying about the material things.

    Plus, if the day comes when you have to look at the pre-nup to dissolve the relationship, things will be much less messy.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  29. v says:

    I'm with No. 3. Divorces are emotionally and financially draining, whereas prewedding you are (presumably) in a calm, caring state of mind and relationship. I think a couple is more likly to be reasonable and create an equitable method to divde their assets when they are calm and caring. Also, I think going through the exercise forces couples to be up front about what financial baggage they are bringing into the marriage (most people I know have student loan debt, etc. rather than a huge family trust). It can also be particularly important if one spouse's career takes a backset to that of the other spouse “for the good of the couple” – e.g. one spouse stays home or works less to be with the couple's kids, or one spouse's career requires a lot of moving around such that other spouse can't really build a strong career, etc. By creating a prenup, a couple will talk through some of these issues and ideally provide a safety net (and piece of mind) for the spouse whose career takes a backset (because, should they ever split up, that throttled career and lower earning potential will follow him or her after the divorce).

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  30. jennifer says:

    Number 3. People are looking at pre nups like a standard form that is designed to screw over the less wealthy member of the relationship, but the fact of the matter is you could write your prenup specifically to close the “escape hatch”, if that's what you really wanted. If you don't trust your future with your husband enough or want them to unhappily stay with you just because its financially inconvenient, you need to seriously reevaluate why you are marrying this person. Marriage really is a legal contract as much as it is about love, and like any contract you should know what happens if the contract ends/is breached. It's not romantic, but its important.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  31. Rachel says:

    I agree with Friend Number 3. I have never understood the problem with pre-nups. I agree with the other comments that a spouses's student loan debt is especially important to be protected from in case of divorce. That being said, I married six months ago and we never talked about a pre-nup. I make significantly more than him, but that won't always be the case (once he leaves the hill haha). Right now I am the one with tons of student loan debts, and he has none. However, his family has significant amounts of land that he will inherit a portion of, and I should have no right to that should we divorce. Sometimes I wish we had signed a pre-nup or at least talked about it. Pre-nups do not have to be a deal breaker or romance killer. Married couples have to deal with the facts of life, and will deal with far more difficult conversations down the line than a pre-nup. A pre-nup is about protecting each other should something horrible happen.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  32. Samantha says:

    I agree with #3.

    I had a financial planning class in college that went into pre-nups. For me, it would be foolish not to get one. No one gets married thinking they will end up divorced. What's the divorce rate now? Still around 50%? Pre-nups aren't supposed to be romantic. It's more like “break-up insurance.” And how are you to know that your future spouse will be respectful of you if you ultimately decide to divorce? Divorce is difficult enough, and for the most part, a pre-nup will just make the process much smoother.

    While I am single at the moment, I would certainly ask for a pre-nup, even if my husband-to-be earns more than I do. Once you're married it's wise to keep seperate checking accounts and only have a joint account for shared expenses. This is a bit extreme, but from a financial planning standpoint, it's practical. Times have changed– men aren't the sole earner in the majority of families anymore. Our expectations need to shift. Discussing money (pre-nups, credit rating, spending habits, etc) is just one of those tough conversations couples today need to have. If you're both not in agreement on it, then don't get married.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  33. E says:

    I am a divorce attorney, and I am unabashedly anti-prenup. You don't have to have a prenup to be smart. I disagree that a girl's not looking out for herself if she doesn't sign one. You must have conversations about assets and debts before getting married, and you can have those conversations without having a prenup.

    To some degree, love and money really can't be separate. If you think they should be, maybe you should just cohabit, but getting married is a whole other ball of wax. Things are going to get commingled.

    I am very happily married, and even though I do divorces for a living, the word “divorce” is not in my vocabulary when it comes to my own marriage. If it were an option, it would be an option, know what I mean? A prenup by its nature contemplates divorce. I would be very wary if I were asked to sign one. I'm with Friend #2: it would tell me that my fiance had an escape hatch.

    All I know is, I've drafted many prenups and I never feel very confident about the marriages of those clients. I fully expect to see those same clients back in my office getting divorced some day. I might feel differently in a situation where someone was being pressured by his/her wealthy family to have a prenup – to me that's a different scenario than a prenup that is requested by the husband or wife him/herself. But in my five years of practice, I've never seen that: just people who don't want to pay off the other person's school loans or something. And there is always a power imbalance – usually I can tell that one person doesn't want the prenup. Each person should have his/her own attorney, of course, and there are checks/balances in place to make sure that people aren't being coerced. But, still, I am amazed that people sign these things when you can tell they are thinking, “Who the hell are you and why do you think we are going to get a divorce some day?”

    To me, marriage is sink or swim. I don't get a feeling that people are jumping into it 100% committed when they aren't willing to take on their spouse as they are.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  34. M says:

    This discussion is fascinating as it's an issue where I can truly see the points on all sides. However, I would have to say that in the end I'm pro pre-nup–because money and love are never truly separate, but you can at least legally separate them. We have to control what we can control. I think that really a pre-nup is not so different from a will or estate plan–it's something you create when you're rational, healthy, and happy for the time when you may not be any of those things. Your will preserves your wishes after you're gone, and a pre-nup protects your assets in case your marriage goes wrong for whatever reason. Even the “best” divorces are not without bitterness and trauma in one camp or both. Also, I think that it should be mentioned that all pre-nups can be written differently, it doesn't mean “that woman gets nothing” (either from your ex-spouse or his family), particularly when children have been born.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  35. Morgan says:

    I definitely agree with friend No. 3. I couldn't agree more with other readers who have mentioned how fairness and reason are likely to yield a more equitable distribution when emotions that surround divorce aren't involved. That being said, I should also disclose that I am biased. I am in my second year of law school. I'll graduate with a great deal of debt. I expect to make a comfortable living but nothing that would probably warrant needing protection. By no means would I be offended if my fiance asked me to sign a prenup. The man I previously dated had the foresight and ability to begin investing money while he was still in high school and continued to do so through college. I will inherit land that has been in my family for generations. Why should those assets, that were acquired well before the marriage and were completely unrelated to the marriage, be susceptible to a nasty divorce? That being said, I would probably negotiate if presented with a prenup to sign. I think an open and frank discussion about a prenup is much more likely to result in a fair and equitable agreement that provides for both partners in the event of various scenarios.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  36. Anne says:

    I think I'm closest aligned with Friend #4, with certain exceptions, namely preexisting wealth. If you come from drastically different family backgrounds (yours has money/land/trusts/etc, his does not, vice versa), or if one of you is already very wealthy, I think it's entirely fair to ask someone to sign a pre-nup; in fact, if it's the first scenario I should think your family would all but insist on it. Unromantic? Maybe, but you could also argue that you're protecting your beloved from what may come. And marriage isn't always romantic, in some ways it's closer to a business partnership, and things change. However, I would not insist on it … obviously; I'm married, no pre-nup.

    My husband and I did consider one (we both come from similar family backgrounds, have similar educations, and similar earning potentials), really along the lines of what commenter Dina mentioned above. My biggest concern was that if some sort of unforeseen medical tragedy happened that changed the very core of who was one of us was, I was terrified of how it would affect our children together. My mother is mentally ill and it tore my family and parents marriage apart. I would sooner die than subject my husband and children to that. I would never stipulate mental illness as a clause like the cheating clause, but having the stuff that gets really messy and can drag you down for years already tied up, years earlier, when they two of you are madly in love with one another and are putting the needs of the other first, is the best time to avoid such a terrible, messy, destructive court battle.

    I think if you can honestly say that there are things you would leave a marriage for, you can see a pre-nup as a way of caring for someone– let's make sure we're both treated fairly in the event of …

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  37. Molly says:

    Closest to #3, and Chelle's comments. But honestly, I don't understand all the caveats: if you're marrying for love, and not for money — and if you're getting married under the assumption that you will never get divorced, and it won't be an issue — then why not just sign it, and never think of it again? I see those rationales as reasons why you should do it, and not reasons why you shouldn't.

    I also agree that the idea is to protect both partners — to protect the wealthier's assets, if needed, but also the partner's livability and well being. Pre-nups aren't usually “I get to keep my money if we get divorced,” right? Something for both? Makes it safer for both sides, and in the event that you do get divorced, makes it a LOT less nasty. Something to keep in mind, especially if kids are involved.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  38. Clarence says:

    Wow, these responses are really surprising. I agree with Number 1 or Number 2 (but more the latter), because having the prenup gives you a reason not to keep trying in the marriage. I think the Number 3's are citing these divorce statistics, but that is because people already have a tendency to not keep trying in the marriage–why give them another reason? Also, keep in mind that the 50% divorce rate is not for college-educated women where the woman is working–rates are much lower for this demographic–so it is especially strange to plan for divorce in this cohort.

    Romance is dead, apparently!

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  39. LE says:

    Very interesting discussion. I like the points that E brings up – my parents have had their ups and downs of marriage but told us that divorce was never an option for them and a prenup almost seems like an escape hatch. I think I agree most with number 4, and with what several other commenters have said. My gut reaction would be to be offended, but if it was for reasons such as family issues or businesses I could understand. It would not be a deal breaker, depending on how the actual document was drafted and how the conversations with my future husband went.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  40. Pragmatic says:

    I'm agreeing with all those that say a pre-nup is appropriate on EITHER side, assuming one partner or both comes to the relationship with assets (money, kids, land) to protect or to protect the other partner from pre-relationship debt (resent the implication that only women are asked to sign them). I look at them as a great way to keep the status quo of pre-marital assets/debt, but that they can interfere with the distribution of assets that are rightfully acquired during the marriage (i.e., joint assets).

    Neither my husband nor I were opposed to them, and spoke to an attorney about whether to sign one. Neither one of us came into the marriage with assets or debt, so we were deemed to be a clean slate. We were advised that a pre-nup would only help us if we did not want our later acquired marital assets to be split 50/50. We declined to sign one on the basis that anything we acquired after marriage was due to joint efforts, and should be divided equally if necessary.

    We have some other factors to consider; his mother was diagnosed with early-onset alzheimer's at 47, so the traumatic brain injury is not just a remote speculation in our case. But, we're just planning financially for that contingency as best as we can inside the marriage, and didn't think a prenup would necessarily help us there.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  41. VA says:

    Friend 1, all the way. I won't go into my marriage anticipating a divorce, despite the statistics. My boyfriend makes 3-4 times my salary and doesn't want one. We're both on the same page that marriage is love AND business – spouses are financial partners as much as they are companions. I don't think anyone is wrong for their opinion on this topic, as there are obviously a lot of considerations, but that's my two cents.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  42. Anna says:

    I believe that a pre-nuptial protects both parties, and is a way of saying “I love you so I want to remove a possible area of great strife in the sad eventuality of our divorce”. Thanks to a small amount of family money I was lucky enough to recieve, my parents have indicated that should I get married they want to see that hard earned legacy protected. My thought would be to put it in an untouchable trust and no matter what happens, ensure its around to be passed on to the next generation.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  43. CWW says:

    Friend 1 or Friend 2. In terms of family wealth & assets, I agree with RAR, there are much better ways to protect those things and I would be insulted if I was asked.

    In terms of income, I think signing a prenup can a bit of a shot in the dark, especially if you are both still relatively young. What if you decide to put him through law school or med school after you marry? And then you divorce? What if you decide later to be a stay at home mom and when you divorce you've been out of the professional world for 20 years? And for the record, I've had friends that were so against staying at home that found it's all they wanted in the world once they had kids. And friends that thought they wanted to stay at home and later learned they didn't. Signing away your legal action for compensation or alimony seems a bit foolish to me…

    I also think prenups add to the overall phenomenon of split bank accounts, which in my experience breeds a certain kind of selfishness and egotism in a marriage…not to mention, it places the person that earns more in a position of power, instead of realizing that regardless of the check you bring home, both parties contribute financially and in other ways to the marriage.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  44. nmm says:

    A pre-nup is about more than pulling the rip-cord in the event the relationship goes sour. It's a full financial disclosure of both parties and how they manage money. The conversation is worth more than anything and will tell you volumes about your intended spouse. Whether you sign one or not, you need to have the conversation about the expectations of finances in the marriage. Money issues are the number one cause in unhappy marriages, romance and love doesn't pay the bills, and if you can't start your marriage with an open and honest discussion of finances then you shouldn't be getting married.

    Pre-nups come in all sorts of flavors and arrangements. They don't have to keep all property of both spouses completely separate. A good, well thought about pre-nup will contemplate the length and stability of the marriage, the sacrifices one person may make for the good of the union ( e.g. it might be agreed that one person will give up career and income potential to for a period of time to take care of the children) and deal with them fairly. There is no reason why a short marriage with no children and both spouses working should be dealt with the same way as a long marriage where one person worked and the other stayed home and raised 5 children and it would be unfair to treat them both the same.

    Pre-nups have a bad rep because they are viewed as a way of bilking poor, defenseless soon to be ex-wives of their rightful share of the community property. These days, women are just as likely to come with money and property of their own, earned before the marriage. A pre-nup puts everybody on the same page with expectations and anyone (man or woman) needs to look closely at their motivation for refusing to sign. Is it because you thought you'd share in your future spouses past gains, or your future spouse expects you give up everything for nothing in exchange. The only way you'll know is if you have the conversation and refusing to have it because it's “unromantic” is just foolish.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  45. Truc says:

    I am biased, because I teach family law. (And I'm getting married this year, so I have a stake both theoretically and financially.)

    Here's my question: can any of you explain what your financial rights would be WITHOUT prenup? Can any of you outline how the state in which you reside identifies marital property, and how they split it up? And if you were to move after your marriage to another state, would any of you look up the same rules for your new home and see whether they change things?

    If the answer to those questions is yes, and you are happy with those rules, then I don't see any need for a prenup. But if, as I suspect is the case for virtually everyone, you have NO IDEA what would happen without a prenup, it seems breathtakingly careless to enter into an institution with HUGE legal consequences for yourself and your family with blinders on.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  46. Jen says:

    I agree with #3. While I didn't have a prenup when I got married, we're now putting enough documents in place to protect eachother in case of a split or death that it's pretty much equivalent to having one.

    Further to this point, we agreed we were happy when we were dating, so why combine accounts and add money into the relationship equation now that we are married? BUT it's important to note, that we're completely transparent regarding spending, planning and saving. As long as we're working together towards the same goals, we don't need to be paying for them out of the same account.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  47. IRMcK says:

    I'm with Friend #3, mostly. I actually think that it would be great if states required a pre-nup the way they require a blood test in order to get a marriage license. That way, you remove the unromantic “I don't trust you to not steal my money” aspect of the pre-nup.

    Marriage is about love, but there is also a business aspect of it. Financial decisions he makes do affect my finances too, and vice versa. We need to be able to talk about it. (Just like we also need to be able to talk about health, death, and other end-of-the-world scenarios). It's important.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  48. VA says:

    @ IRMcK – only something to the tune of four states still require a blood test to get a marriage license.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  49. Jen says:

    I think law school has changed my views on pre-nups.

    Like it or not, marriage is a contract. Whenever entering into a contract you can draft your contract on the terms set by the parties or you can follow default rules set by the legislature. For example, if you enter into a lease you agree to the terms of the lease and the remedies if one party breaches. If you don't sign a lease you are bound by the laws of your state if one party was to breach.

    Most people don't enter into any contract expecting to breach the agreement but deciding as a couple how things would work in that situation rather than letting the government decide for you seems more responsible. Marriage is more than just love and commitment and one of those aspects is that marriage is a state spoonsered contract. When you use a pre-nup you can decide as a couple what laws will govern your marriage instead of some legislature, now isn't that even MORE ROMANTIC?!

    That being said, I don't personally think I will have a pre-nup when that time comes but I'll also be knowledgeable (I'll be an attorney) about the terms that I am agreeing to by not drafting our own terms up front.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  50. espie says:

    I think I'm with friend #4 for now. I would be taken a back if asked to sign one, but at the end of the day, I think I would.
    My fiance and I are finishing school, so neither of us have a whole lot of money to our names, although my family has a few properties and financial assets that will come to me some very far off distant day from now. But, his parents are divorces and in the lower of the income brackets. So there isn't a real reason for a pre-nup.
    If circumstances were different though, it certainly wouldn't be grounds to walk away from the person I love, regardless of what a pre-nup meant/didn't mean to society.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  51. MP says:

    On the note of separate bank accounts- that is just something that I do not understand. At all. I've seen friends and co-workers with this setup and all I seem to hear is “She takes all of MY money!” or “He bought ____ without telling me and I didn't know for months!” I don't understand how you can be married to someone and yet take such a mine and your approach. Money is such a huge issue and like it or not it will continue to play a huge roll in your life. It is common for people to have varying views about money, spending, saving, etc but you certainly shouldn't think you're ready to marry someone when you aren't willing to discuss and agree on a plan regarding money habits for the family. You may not always agree on every money issue but I think separate bank accounts and separate financial lives can only lead to more fights. It also just feels so secretive.

    PS Belle this is a GREAT Discuss! Love it.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  52. L says:

    Friend 3 all the way. A pre-nup doesn't prevent a married couple from determining their joint financial choices throughout the duration of their marriage (however long or short). It protects each individual party and their partner. For example, if my SO and I get hitched, what if my side business goes under? Right now it would just impact what is legally “my” money, but in the future could be “our” money. Finally, choosing to stay with someone because it did or didn't make financial sense is the beginning of the end, regardless of the choice. If someone wants to walk away from you, but stays because they can't afford to leave, your relationship isn't well functioning. Lots of things can serve as a ripcord in relationships.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  53. SLD says:

    Friend #1 or #2, leaning towards #2, and seconding all the comments that pointed out that all four are fairly one-sided and assume the woman is on the receiving end, not the requesting end, of the prenup. Also seconding MP's comments about separate bank accounts. My husband comes from a wealthier background than I but a prenup was never an issue for us – we both knew we absolutely didn't want one from the start. Then again, we're both Catholic and don't believe in divorce anyhow. I do think a prenup can be an excuse to not try harder to work on the marriage, work things out, resolve things, etc.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  54. Jackmo says:

    I, too, have had this conversation with friends and have always found the conversation a bit troublesome. I think what bothers me is the idea that your SO asking you for a pre-nup would be a surprise or shocking in some way. More important to me than whether or not my SO is asking me for a pre-nup, is the idea of entering into marriage with someone with whom I have not discussed such matters prior to getting engaged. To me, this is indicative of larger issues in the relationship, such as a poor communication or a lack of similar values.

    That said, my husband and do not have a pre-nup, though it was discussed and we did seek the advice of attorneys (and I am one myself). But we are fairly young, have similar savings, similar earning capacities, and similar family assets. In addition, we have been together for most of our adults lives, so we do conceive of a lot of our assets as joint. The opinion was that if we were to get divorced, there was very little that would be rightfully one person's or the other's (though this can obviously change). But if I or my SO had significantly more assets than the other, I think the pre-nup makes sense. It's not about love, it's about practicality.

    At the end of the day, I think the best way to think about it is on a relationship-by-relationship basis. In certain cases, it makes a lot more sense than in other cases and the idea of “asking for a pre-nup” is a a lot more egregious in certain cases than in others (if you do not share my above opinion on the issue).

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  55. KJ says:

    The lawyer in me has gotta go with Friend 3. I totally understand the emotional considerations, but at the end of they day a marriage is a contractual relationship and I think it's smartest to treat it as such.

    “Money is business, marriage is love, let's keep them separate.” Aaaaabsolutely.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  56. Ms. C says:

    Wow. Great topic.

    I'm between 2 and 3. Pre-nups are understandable, even necessary, in cases of a large/complicated inheritance –to wit, when various financial investments are to be ceded or control of a family business is passed from one member to another (or several others). Those situations are sticky and come with a thousand variables that a legal document, like a pre-nup, can cover. However, for most people a pre-nup is not necessary to distinguish mine v. yours. In many states, everything you bring into the marriage (on both sides of the ledger) is yours, as well any gifts or inheritance received during. It is only the property, wealth, or debt accumulated during the marriage that is marital property and split at dissolution. The point is that in terms of distribution of property, pre-nups are not always necessary and they don't even guarantee that you are protected — e.g., my friend (with familial wealth) lost money to her philandering spouse through a pre-nup.

    Another thing I might add, you never really know how you will handle money and marriage until you are in the thick of it. It is a personal and evolving experience. I always thought I would keep everything separate when I got married. And we did…for a few months. However, it became too complicated and began creating barriers between us. I think a pre-nup might, on some level, always keep those barriers in place. Granted my husband and I are financial equals, but since we have combined our finances I cannot imagine a committed, honest marriage any other way.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  57. HH says:

    I agree most with #4, but I can definitely see #3’s point – I’ve never thought of it that way.

    Also, first off, I’m currently married and have been for 1.5 years.

    1) No…ok, maybe a teeny bit…which seems silly due to my comments below.
    2) Yes, but we would both have to sign it. And we’d both have to discuss why we were signing it.
    3) I have no idea, BUT, I don’t think I would walk away from the engagement either way. To me, if you’re at the point in your relationship in which you, and your SO, are talking engagement or are already engaged, then you have quite bit invested in the relationship and you wouldn’t just “walk away” – you would discuss why or why not you, or your SO, wanted the pre-nup, and why you, or they, did not want the pre-nup. If you can’t work through this issue, then how will you resolve other disagreements that will come up during your marriage? (Ex: Kids – yes or no? How will you decide where to live in the future? But really you should hash that out before marriage, IMO.)

    Before becoming engaged, and then married, I thought I wanted a pre-nup myself, but as my relationship with my (now) husband developed, I didn’t feel like I needed it. I can’t articulate why I felt this way, but it just didn’t seem necessary. Also, when I did mention it to him, his main point was that our wealth (such that it was – hahaha) was pretty much equal, so we didn’t have prior assets to protect if it came to divorce. (And yes, some people might read this and think my hubs convinced me out of a pre-nup, but I wasn't actively pursuing a pre-nup, nor do I regret not having one.)

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  58. Whitney says:

    I agree with friend #3. I feel like pre-nups have gotten a bad name, when all they essentially are is a discussion, in writing, about how you plan to handle your finances throughout your marriage and in the event that you ever decide to dissolve that marriage. It's a good conversation to have whether you decide to officially put it in writing or not – I think that one could learn a lot about herself and her future partner that way. I don't consider a pre-nup to be an “escape hatch”. Instead, I think of it as a way of saying to my partner: I love you, and I want to be married to you for the rest of my life…but if something happens and we decide to divorce, I want all of the details to be worked out in advance so that arguments can be kept to a minimum and we can both walk away with good memories of our lives spent together. If you look at it as a way for each partner to ensure the future happiness and well-being of the other, it's actually pretty romantic.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  59. e says:

    I've never thought about pre-nups since neither my husband or I come from money and we got married fresh out of college so we had a car, my ring, and not much else 🙂 That being said, things have changed since then and I could see why someone would want a pre nup if they felt uneasy about their marriage. My family has come into some property that will generate large amounts of income in the next 15-20 years, but I asked my parents to put it in both mine & my husband's name (ideally it will generate money to put the large family we hope to have through college – maybe grandkids too!). Also, I work full time because my husband is fulfilling a tedious Masters degree at seminary (4 year) program. He also works part-time. Essentially, we live off his (very small!) income and we use mine to pay for school (yay no loans!) and we are saving the excess for a house. So, I suppose I have alot invested in him. Although he knows that if he leaves me for someone else after I've spent $50,000 putting him through school I'll kill him. No pre nup required! 😉

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  60. Megan Kristel says:

    Is it possible to agree with everyone??? I was married very young, at 23 almost 10 years ago. A pre nup never crossed our minds. Now, my husband has insisted that if anything were to ever happen to him, and I were to remarry that I would absolutely have a pre nup to protect our wealth and our children and that he would do the same. So while a pre nup definitely dampens the romance, the reality is if you have something that needs protecting you need to separate the two. Now I think of it in terms of when our daughters get married and that we would likely encourage one to protect the trusts we have worked so hard to build for them. This is such an interesting topic. Great post as always!!!

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  61. Kit says:

    I'd definitely be with Number 3. I would want the security of knowing I would be protected if something were to go wrong. I also think an earlier poster's comment about the pre-nup process teaching you about how the state legally interprets marriage is an excellent one and something I hadn't thought of before. Although I'm currently single and my thoughts might change in the future, I think that, even if my future husband didn't ask for a prenup, I would want one.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  62. Sarah says:

    I think it would be acceptable if the primary issue were childcare – such as, if one partner willingly agreed to quit his/her job to take care of children full-time and be financially supported by the working partner, then if there were a divorce, the non-working partner would have lost career time, earnings and development. In that instance, I think there should be some discussion and agreement on possible compensation. Not so much viewing it as thinking the other person would screw them, but recognizing ahead of time that the one partner was making a sacrifice for the greater good of the family.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  63. M-C says:

    I find it fascinating that the assumption seems to be that the man needs a prenup to protect himself from the gold-digging woman, not that the woman could use protection too. Should your husband start drinking or gambling, for instance, or take up with a real gold digger, you may well find yourself in the better situation, no matter how it looks now.

    But more to the point, I can't remember where I saw a similar discussion recently, but it made what seemed to me a very good point: this is a major opportunity to discuss fairness before you are committed. If you find that you cannot talk through a supposedly amicable discussionand come to a reasonable agreement, you may well want to reconsider whether you have a worthwhile marriage to get into. It does bring up a lot of issues on what the relationship should be about, and how it should be run. If you consider marriage a commitment (and you should if you're considering losing your shirt at it..), it's good to find out ahead of time about your future partner's character (and often that of his family as well). In addition, since most of a prenup would apply to divorce rather than to widowhood, it's an opportunity to negociate a fair settlement from a position of love, rather than wait till the relationship is irreparably damaged.

    Sadly, most lawyers don't have prenups. It's a professional thing, like the software engineers who don't keep their system up to date because they can't stand coming home and doing the same thing as what they've been doing all day. That is no reflection on whether it's a useful thing or not.

    I'd go as far as suggesting a no5: if there is a big discrepancy in money background, family or personal, or if children are involved, if the other party hadn't mentioned a prenup I'd start wondering what's wrong with them. Maybe you'd agree jointly that it's not necessary because of this or that, but at least it should be discussed.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  64. Kathleen says:

    I agree most with # 3. Where one party has significant assets (or debts, I suppose), then I think working it out at the beginning while you're happy and talking to each other is much better than (potentially, but hopefully not) fighting it out in a messy divorce. I think in those circumstances you're more likely to agree on something that's fair rather than vindictive. I think that marriage is something that shouldn't be approached only in a lovey-dovey haze. It is serious and you need to clarify expectations. (Like those foolish people who don't discuss things like whether they want children or not).

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  65. Karen says:

    Friend #1. I won't marry someone who's already thinking about what our divorce will be like. I know that pre-nups aren't that cut-and-dry, but I'm only getting married if both of us know that there won't be a divorce. So no pre-nup necessary.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  66. Belle says:

    M-C: We also had a LONG conversation about men vs. women asking for prenups. There was certainly no assuming going on. I just decided to keep the post more focused.

    February 24, 2012/Reply
  67. CynthiaW says:

    I think that it depends – if I were in my 20s and it was a first marriage for us both, I think that I'd be hesitant because I'm not sure what it says about the relationship. I might go ahead and do it as long as there was protection in there for me in case of infidelity on his part or if I wasn't the one who wanted the divorce.

    Now that I'm in my 40s, I think that I would feel differently – especially if I were marrying someone with children from a previous marriage. I would understand him wanting to protect them in case we divorced. Not that I would ever take money that rightfully belongs to someone's children, but I could understand him needing that assurance. Again, I would want to be protected in the case of infidelity on his part and I also think that there should be a time limit involved – once you've been married for 10 years, maybe the pre-nup would no longer be in force or something.

    I can see why someone would want one if they had serious family assets to protect as well – but I would still insist on being protected if I were the injured party in the divorce.

    For the record – I didn't sign one before getting married, nor did my husband ask me to. Not that either of us had much, being right out of college at the time.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  68. Lexi says:

    It would depend on context: I wouldn't necessarily be thrilled, but would also want to look at it practically. Prenups are a negotiation- it can be fair, and you can negotiate for yourself too. It can definitely protect both parties in terms of assets, etc. What if your fiance is divorced with children? You can protect your assets and income, particularly in states that would include your income in household income that his ex could use for child support/alimony.

    1) Would you be offended if your potential spouse asked you to sign a pre-nup? A: Honestly, I would be, yes. But depending on how it was brought up, I'd move on to look at it as a practical matter.
    2) Would you sign a pre-nup, offended or not? A: If it was fair to me, and reviewed by my own lawyer, yes.
    3) Would you be willing to walk away from the engagement if your fiance insisted you sign and you didn't want to, or conversely, if you asked your fiance to sign and he/she refused? A: Yes. Hopefully, we could have an open discussion about it, but if it turned into some kind of standoff I'd look at it as an indication that we'd have issues down the road.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  69. Beth says:

    One thing that I find very, very striking in your conversation with your friends is that all of them (yes, even the one who was pragmatic about it) didn't look at it from a position of power. Something was being done to/asked of them, not the other way around. Where is the girl power? I'm not married, but if I ever get married (and I love being single, so I don't see it happening) you can bet I will be the one asking for the prenup. For starters, I suspect I will be the one with “more to lose”, financially at least.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  70. Belle says:

    Beth: Many things were discussed, including whether you would ask for anyone. Please don't assume just because it's not mentioned here, it wasn't talked about. I just wanted to keep this post focused.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  71. Elle says:

    I don't get how people can state reason 2 with a straight face. The truth is that every single person getting married has a pre nup – it's just the current divorce laws of your state. All a pre nup does is change the default terms which are already in place. There's no moral high ground unless you write a contract restricting your ability to divorce. Then divorce is really off the table. Otherwise what you are saying is, “I love my husband enough to get divorced according to the general laws of the state”. That's all.

    And really, I can understand how people can be insulted by it killing the romance but what kind of marriage do people really think they can have when the only thing keeping you there is money? To me, that sounds worse than accusing someone of being a golddigger. “Dear hubbie, I know that our love won't last and concern for our marriage or future children's' welfare won't keep me in the marriage, but losing cold hard cash will?”

    That said, I think it's unnecessary most of the time. You can use trusts and other devises to protect family money and I think a marriage should take on both partner's debt (personally) but if not, fine.

    My guess would be that group no 1 are the group most likely to divorce out of your friends. Because people who need ignorance to preserve “romance” generally are in real trouble by kid 2. I would bet strong money that friend 1 is the youngest.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  72. CynthiaW says:

    I just realized that I never picked a friend to agree with – I went back and forth between 3 & 4 and finally had to come down on the side of 3. Why? Because I've seen too many of my retired military friends get screwed out of half of his/her pension by an ex-spouse who cheated or wasn't even married to him/her the whole 20 years – and then shacked up with someone later instead of marrying so that he/she wouldn't lose access to the ex's benefits. So, it's not only rich people who need protection.

    Also, I have another friend who recently married a woman and then found out that she had deceived him about the amount of credit card debt she was carrying – she owes about $100,00 and a large amount of it is on high-interest store cards. Now, I'm guessing that pre-marriage debt is her responsibility alone, but I doubt she'll stop over-spending and he has children from a previous marriage to think about. Now, she he have insisted on knowing every detail ahead of time? Absolutely, especially since he knew it was bad (just not that bad) – but a pre-nup would have brought all this to light ahead of time.

    And, if anything ever happened to my husband and I ended up remarrying, I would most likely insist on a pre-nup to protect myself and my assets from a potential future divorce.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  73. R says:

    People will hate this comment, but I'd fathom to guess that all the anti-pre-nups don't have money, didn't come from money. Be pragmatic and sign a prenup. It has nothing to do with LOVE or a measure thereof. I'm lucky to have a wonderful partner. I trust him enough to, if he'd asked, i would have signed one.

    February 25, 2012/Reply
  74. Moose says:

    I WAS Friend #1 for a long (naive) time. Then events transpired: a long-term relationship we thought was headed for marriage derailed, demonstrating to me that, yes, it does happen! Even to two nice people who love each other; I got a Master's and with it a lot of student debt; and I got a better job and accumulated some assets and a nice nest egg. Now I am solidly Friend #3.

    February 26, 2012/Reply
  75. JJ says:

    I'm going with #1. I get the argument that what's yours before the marriage is yours alone, whether it's a debt or financial obligation to your existing kids or a ton of money. However, the decisions you make going forward about debt, kids, and income-earning are made jointly. I am about to get married and we plan to have children, and that is strongly influencing my career direction to earn me less money over the long run (which means less contributions to my 401K, less social security, etc.). The same is true of him – he will probably retire earlier so he can move with me somewhere else. If we did divorce one way, I think the automatic 50/50 split is the only way to go. We both sacrified to get into this partnership, and it's too hard and not fair to try to parse out who sacrified “more” along the way and should get more money in the end.

    February 26, 2012/Reply
  76. DCQuarterlife says:

    My parents have made it clear their expectation that I get a prenup as has my BF's parents. We both have money coming to us in inheritance which our families want to make sure is protected. Beyond that, not so much. We both agree we want to protect what we're bringing in, but anything within the marriage is within the marriage — so if I suddenly strike it rich or he does, we both have. End of story.

    So yes we're getting a prenup but only to really cover our relative family money.

    February 26, 2012/Reply
  77. EAF says:

    I am a recent law school grad, with tons of student loan debt, and my fiance is a physician. I offered to sign a prenup, since I feel like they are generally good ideas, and my fiance doesn't want one… even though his assets would far, far outnumber mine at this point in our relationship.

    We have discussed the possibility of a prenup solely to address pre-marital debt and assets (i.e. the amount we've accumulated in retirement accounts until now and his equity in the house he purchased prior to our marriage) but everything we acquire/earn/accumulate AFTER marriage would be evenly split. If we sign a prenup, it would have an infidelity clause– if either of us cheat, we forfeit the protections of our prenup…. also, it would expire. After a certain number of years of marriage, going back and dividing things up seems pretty pointless.

    So… I agree with friend #3. I love my fiance, and don't think we'll get a divorce. But, being realistic (and being a lawyer)… why not make a divorce as painless as possible if it does happen?

    February 27, 2012/Reply
  78. Blake says:

    I completely agree with Friend #3. As a law student, I think it just makes sense. It's nice to have a sense of hope and romance that your marriage will last forever. Hopefully, you're only getting married if you think it will never end. However, the fact of the matter is that approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. It's just as possible as not that you will end up in the half that doesn't make it, for a variety of reasons. Also I'd like to point out that pre-nups aren't always for the sole protection of the man's assets. Women are increasingly the breadwinners in relationships, so as strong, financially secure women, it makes sense to want to protect what we've worked so hard for in the event of divorce.

    February 27, 2012/Reply