Most people have notions about prenuptial agreements from what they’ve seen on the news, seen in movies or soap operas, or heard from general gossip. However, most of these preconceived notions are complete myths. The following are the most common myths regarding premarital agreements fully debunked, almost Mythbusters style.
Myth 1: Prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy people.
Just because you aren’t rich now doesn’t mean you won’t become wealthy in the future. A prenuptial agreement can simply put in writing how you and your spouse will approach finances so that there will not be any upsetting surprises after marriage. And in the event that you divorce, you will have everything completely laid out to help minimize conflict.
This is most important for second, third, etc. marriages, especially when children from previous marriages are involved. A clear plan in writing about your financial situation will reduce potential conflict between spouses and children in the event of a divorce or death.
Myth 2: Prenuptial agreements simply protect the wealthier spouse and nullify the other’s rights.
This may seem to be the case, especially in the realm of celebrities, but it’s not an umbrella fact. Premarital agreements can and should be written to protect both spouses. In addition, prenuptial agreements found to be completely one-sided can be difficult (or impossible) to enforce court. The basic requirements for such agreements to be enforceable are relatively the same in each state:
- Signing the agreement must be voluntary;
- The agreement cannot be unfair when signed; and
- Each spouse must fully disclose all assets and debts in the agreement.
Myth 3: Premarital agreements aren't romantic.
Prenuptial agreements really aren’t romantic, but if you think about it, for a successful marriage, romance isn’t everything. Not to mention, fighting over money after marriage isn’t romantic either.
Also to the contrary, studies have found that when couples work together to create a prenuptial agreement, it can actually strengthen the relationship. Money is the number one reason for marital conflict, and if how to handle finances has already been discussed and set, then most of the conflict has already been resolved. Doesn’t that sound more romantic?
Myth 4: Premarital agreements must address every issue that might come up in a divorce.
Prenuptial agreements are your own private contracts between one another, so there is no minimum or maximum number of issues you and your spouse have to include. If you only want to discuss your premarital assets, then that’s all you need. If you just want to outline how your finances will be handled at the time of your death, that’s fine too. If you want to discuss every possible issue that could come up in a divorce, then that’s acceptable too.
Myth 5: If we don't get married and just stay living together, my partner won't have any claims to my income or property.
Texas recognizes common law marriages (called “informal marriage” in Texas),which are partially established by living together, and since Texas is a community property state, any property or income you acquire while cohabitating in a common law marriage will be considered joint property. In other words, your partner will have claims on both your income and property.
Granted, common law marriages are a tad difficult to prove, but you and your cohabitating partner can avoid all of that potential conflict with a cohabitation agreement. This way, it’s definitive who will own what property, who is entitled to what after death or break-up, etc.
So really, despite the ugly portraits prenuptial agreements have, they can be something that helps solidify a relationship, reduce conflict, set a financial plan, and avoid future court costs. They don’t sound so ugly after all, do they?