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Prenups 101: Everything You Need To Know

Mint, coral, and hefty prenup costs are out, neutral colors and affordable prenups are in. Prenuptial agreements (or “prenups”) are the new to-do for your wedding list. Divorce attorney and founder of HelloPrenup, Julia Rodgers, esq. shares the insider knowledge on why you should consider getting a prenup before you tie the knot.

You may be wondering to yourself, “why would I get a prenup? I am happily engaged!” Because prenups do more than just sort out your finances. They also align marital goals, facilitate communication, and get your marriage started with both of you on the same page. So, if you are a bride, stick around to learn more about why you should get a prenup!

Let’s talk marriage

person in wedding dress and suit embracing.

What makes a successful marriage? Strong, consistent, and transparent communication. (We know, we know, cliché, but hear us out). Right now, you may be basking in post-engagement bliss, where everything in your relationship is roses and butterflies, and that’s great! But that doesn’t last forever without hard work and effort. Once you are 5, 10, 15 years into the marriage, romance will evolve, and so will the two of you. You’ll likely each take on potential life changes, such as bringing children into the relationship, extended family issues, financial hurdles (or even just the everyday wear and tear of being a citizen trying to have a social life without dipping into savings). Don’t get us wrong– it can still be romantic, it’s just different. To make it past the seven year itch and beyond, the two of you need to be pros at transparent communication and remain on the same team with aligned goals to maintain that engagement bliss for decades to come. Besides paying taxes, there’s one guarantee in life: you will face challenges that will either strengthen your bond or slowly chip away at it.

The best news? This long-term romance is actually more rewarding than the fleeting romance you both potentially experienced in the first year of being together (also known as the beloved “honeymoon phase”). When you work together as a team and invest your energy and resources into building a life you are both proud of, there’s nothing more romantic than that.

Hold on, how does this relate to a prenup?

person in wedding dress and suit running on a dirt road.

A prenup is the ultimate tool to establish healthy communication while covering the essential topics rooted in a successful marriage. The process of getting a prenup lends itself to contemplating, discussing, and negotiating different terms included in a prenup. In other words, a prenup acts as a pre-marital planning tool to get you and your partner on the same page prior to saying “I do.” This, in turn, opens up the door to in-depth conversations about things a couple may not have discussed before (or not as in-depth). For example, having children will be discussed in the prenup process. Do you want kids? How will you provide for the children? Will one of you stay home and forego a career? This needs to be considered when going through the prenup process, among many other hard-hitting topics. 

Lots of couples that get a prenup find that they learn a lot about one another–each other’s life goals, financial goals, expectations of one another, boundaries, and more. In fact, according to a private HelloPrenup study, nearly 84% of the respondents said that they felt more connected with their partner after getting a prenup. The act of planning a future together brings about a better and more profound understanding of each other. And, let’s face it, that’s pretty darn romantic.

Prenup basics

why you should get a prenup

A prenuptial agreement (also known as, “a prenup”) is a private contract between two partners who are about to get married. It’s important to know that a prenup must be signed before getting married. You cannot sign a prenup after the wedding day or else it won’t be enforceable. Prenups should also be put into writing and signed by both partners. That’s right, no verbal prenups or unsigned documents, otherwise you won’t have a valid agreement.

So, what does a prenup do?

Prenups help clarify the financial rights and obligations of each partner while they are married and in the event that the marriage just does not work out. In particular, a prenup agreement outlines property rights between a couple—such as, what property (i.e., bank accounts, cars, investments, inheritances, etc.) and debt (student loans, credit cards, etc.) should be “separate property” (i.e., yours and yours alone) or “marital/community property” (i.e., joint property).

On top of property rights, a prenup can also talk about spousal support (a.k.a. alimony) which addresses how one spouse will financially support the other in the case of a separation (if at all). But, that’s not all, folks! Prenups can also address financial obligations during the marriage–budgets, spending, inheritance, gifts, debt, joint accounts, and more. Prenups can also include clauses about wills, trusts, and estate plans to create a comprehensive plan.  Depending on your state, there are even optional, additional clauses that may make sense for you—think who gets the marital home? What happens to health insurance? Who keeps the pets? And so on and so forth. 

The consequences of not getting a prenup

why you should get a prenup

Without a prenup, the default divorce laws of your state will apply and decide on your behalf how your property will be split up and whether or not alimony is appropriate. To put it bluntly—if you don’t dictate how you’d like your separate and community property to be dictated in a private contract (prenup) before you get married, a court will dictate that for you. Essentially, someone other than you and your partner will decide how your property is divided. So the question is—why let the courts decide what happens to your property when you can decide for yourselves?

Okay, but what are my “default state laws?”

Let’s talk about the two different types of default laws used to decide property division: Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution. If you live in a state that is considered a Community Property state (California, Nevada, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Washington, Wisconsin), the property you accumulate while married is typically split 50/50, with some exceptions. On the other hand, if you live in an Equitable Distribution state, your property will be split up based on a list of statutory factors laid out by your state (e.g., the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, etc.). The division of property is “equitable” but not always 50/50 (though it can be split equally).

All this to say, courts have a ton of discretion when it comes to dividing up your property and how it’s divided up will also depend on the laws of your state. You may be wondering how a judge could have discretion over YOUR stuff, after all, it is YOUR property, shouldn’t you have a say? Spoiler alert: you DO as long as you have a prenup. If you don’t get a prenup before getting married, and you end up getting a divorce one day, then your “default prenup” (a.k.a. Your state’s divorce laws) will apply.

Do we still need a prenup if we don’t have any property?

Many people come to us wondering if they even need a prenup if they don’t have any money or property yet. Great question! The answer is yes. Why? Because if there’s a chance you will make money sometime during your marriage, or purchase property, or even take out debt, then you may want a prenup to protect it. With a prenup, you can make sure that all of your future assets, income, and debt is sorted out with a prenup.

For example, future income–maybe you don’t make much money now, but you plan to climb the corporate ladder and be the CEO one day. If that’s you, you may want to add in a clause about future income and how you want that to be treated in the event of a separation. Or, let’s say you’re expecting some inheritance.

And most commonly, if you either of you have debt, you should consider a prenup. Why? Debt can become martial and a dual responsibility, even if a divorce occurs. Prenups can segregate debt and make sure any accrued before, during, or after the marriage is the accruer’s responsibility alone.

Yeah, but, prenups are too expensive…right?

Not always! The average prenup costs around $5,000 per couple when using traditional lawyers. And—it’s likely going to take many weeks or months to complete as attorneys are drafting and negotiating your prenup with your partner’s counsel.

But, there’s a much better way. HelloPrenup—the #1 premier prenup platform, offers flat rate pricing of just $599 per couple. No office visits, no adversarial negotiations with attorneys, and can even be done in a single day. HelloPrenup believes prenups should be accessible to every couple who wants one as they are statistically proven to improve the lives of couples and help marriages last and empower the couple to draft their prenup in the comfort of their home—without overspending on money or time (and leaving their entire marriage’s decisions at the fate of two attorneys).

Additionally, attorneys are accessible directly within your account for even just a simple Q&A session if you have burning legal questions. You can even hire an attorney to review your completed agreement to ensure you feel completely comfortable with your clauses.

How does it work? Say no more–it’s super easy to use. We’ve laid out the steps for you below:

  • Step 1: Create your HelloPrenup account & invite your fiance
  • Step 2: Fill out individual questionnaires
  • Step 3: Align on any discrepancies in your answers 
  • Step 4: Connect with attorneys in your state if wanted or needed
  • Step 5: Download, sign, & notarize your agreement!
  • Step 6: Pop the champagne and get ready to walk down the aisle!

Do I need an attorney to create a prenup?

You do not need an attorney to draft a prenup. However, it may be helpful to have an attorney review if you have legal questions, extremely complex assets (think: businesses, trust funds, etc.), or you simply want a sanity-check or peace of mind that an attorney has at least seen your document.

In addition, California has a law requiring attorney representation if you choose to alter alimony (but don’t worry, HelloPrenup has the most affordable, timely, and seamless way to get that signature). By choosing HelloPrenup, you get access to discounted, flat-rate attorney services, from licensed attorneys in your state.

The Bottom Line

why you should get a prenup

If you want a long lasting marriage, you’ll need to invest in one. The key to ensuring “for as long as you both shall live” is to prepare and plan before you tie the knot. Prenups are not just contracts, but tools for communication. They help you and your partner get on the same page and gain a profound understanding of one another before tying the knot. Clarity, expectations, and boundaries are all products of going through the prenup process. From having children to family inheritances to wedding gifts, a prenup can make sure you two start marriage off with a shared future vision. We believe, at HelloPrenup, that sorting out these types of issues prior to walking down the aisle sets your marriage up for success.

As if HelloPrenup couldn’t get any sweeter, they graciously offered $50 off to all David’s Bridal customers using code DAVIDSBRIDAL50 at checkout.

Ready to get started? Before you say “I do,” get the prenup. Find out more information here.

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