The Evolution of Prenups And Should You Consider It

The Evolution of Prenuptial Agreements

According to The Spruce, couples have been making prenuptial agreement (prenup) since ancient Egyptian times and the practice has existed in the Anglo-American tradition for centuries. However, it was parents of the bride and groom who negotiated these agreements at that point of time.

Prenups then evolved to become more of a preemptive assurance for possible future marital issues, instead of a security document signed to protect a woman from poverty (should the marriage end).

Now, prenups became more of an equitable agreement, with new legislation governing how each city or country handled prenups. As a contract that was drafted before the marriage, many would say that drafting a prenup might be a romance killjoy. On the other hand, it serves as a form of marriage insurance, assets and other responsibilities can be split fairly between the two partners in the case of a divorce. 

 

As it can be quite a tedious (and pricey) decision, here are the pros and cons of a getting prenup for you to consider before tying the knot. 

Pros of Prenup 

 

Offers a level of security for the financial arrangement of both parties

A prenup clearly defines what constitutes marital property and each spouse’s rights to them. 

Since it’s a legal document, the terms of separation take into account the couple’s interests while still adhering to the principles of law. 

If the time (ever) comes, one does not have to worry about needing to fight excessively for what they deserve (or feel like they might be walking away with less).

Saves time, cost, and emotional burden

Since it is strategically drafted before the marriage, the terms are probably agreed upon amicably. 

On that note, a prenup can help avoid the tiring disagreements over ownership and rights in the event of a divorce. This helps to minimise any costly litigation which disputing couples usually go through.

Protects the assets acquired by one party before the marriage

Besides marital assets, one can include provisions for matters which are unique to them. 

For example, the rights to a property they had before the marriage. Generally, if one can support his/her claims with proof, one will be awarded the asset separate from his/her partner. This means that one can secure one’s family heirlooms and businesses. 

Protects partners from absolving the debt of the other spouse

It is normal to envision a shared future in the bliss of marriage. The undertaking of financial responsibilities overlap in marriage too. Hence, it’s common to find that one spouse may be paying off the other’s debt. 

With that said, a prenup allows a couple to define separate liabilities so that the partner who’s forking out the money can be duly compensated upon divorce. 

On the other hand, if one partner had to make career sacrifices to support the family and in other words live without an independent income, a prenup provides assurance that they may be financially supported by the higher-earning partner in an alimony (a maintenance fee or ‘life support’), in order to get back on one’s feet towards financial independence. 

This is especially the case when a lower-earning spouse has to take custody of the children.

Cons of Prenup 

 

May not be applicable for young couples 

A prenup cannot dictate division of future assets (acquire together or otherwise) as the related parties may not be present to give their agreement to the terms, or situations simply cannot be predicted pre-marriage. 

Hence, the division of possible matrimonial assets including custody of future children, retirement savings and more will not be guaranteed by the prenup. 

For young couples who probably have lesser assets, the prenup may be ineffective in securing a financial future. 

May be unnecessary cost

In most countries, the laws governing the divorce process already entails a just and equitable split of matrimonial assets – eliminating the need to go through a prenup. 

Unless one has special provisions about individual assets to add or the couple wants to avoid disputes, obtaining a prenup may not be necessary and may only add on to the high costs of divorce. 

May be unbalanced

Many couples think divorce is an impossible occurrence and could not comprehend the true consequences of an inequitable split of assets. Hence, a skewed prenup might actually be ignorantly agreed upon prior to the marriage. 

The key to ensuring both parties’ interests are fully represented is to hire individual attorneys to draft the document before it is approved by both parties.

The key to ensuring both parties’ interests are fully represented is to hire individual attorneys to draft the document before it is approved by both parties.

So... should I get a prenup?

Despite its limitations, a prenup is a practical option for most – even if it’s an awkward conversation to bring up.

It’s also not about how much assets you own, but about guaranteeing a stable financial future for yourself – a prenup is a good way to simplify that process by eliminating all the hassle that already accompanies divorce.

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Written by

Carolyn Ooi

Last updated on

August 8th 2019, 5:23 pm

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