One of the least romantic things that can happen in the lead-up to a marriage is to have one of the partners request that the other sign a pre-nuptial agreement, right? We can all imagine the following scenario: a wealthy partner wants to make sure that the less-well-off partner doesn’t get his (or her) pre-marital assets if the couple ends up divorcing. Just talking about a possible divorce during wedding planning is depressing enough, but trying to lock-in an economic disparity between the parties is icky, right? Well, discussing or making prenuptial agreements don’t have to look or feel that way. Here’s a link to an insightful article from the Huffington Post on couples using the option of mediation to develop sensitive pre-nups:
I’ve done several prenups for clients in recent years that were actually very warm and connecting experiences for the participants. Both were 2nd marriage situations where the partners had prior children that they were legally and morally obligated to support (including for college). Because the parties had previous families and financial lives, they recognized that they needed to have a serious conversation about how they balanced their prior commitments with those they were taking on in their upcoming marriage. And……the “ick” factor made it hard for them to have those necessary talks one-on-one, without a facilitator.
The pre-nups we developed were designed to achieve mutual understanding and support about how each partner could be fair to all their family members, including each other and prior children or spouses. For example, what would happen to one partner’s home if he or she died after the new marriage? Would the new spouse get to remain living there, or would she face eviction by her adult step-children? How did the parties envision separating finances if they divorced in the next 5 years (maybe at the age of 40) as opposed to if they lived together for 35 more years until one of them died?
The large number of divorces in the U.S. leads to a similar high number of remarriages. Our family connections and obligations are becoming much more complicated than in our grandparents’ time. Mediation allows a couple to have that conversation, and to develop a sensitive pre-nuptial agreement to set out their wishes in the event of death or divorce. A couple who makes plans for their future together is being smart, not “icky” if they do so in the spirit of love and connection that is leading them to choose to marry.
Finally, Pre-Nups for Lovers is a great book and website that can help couples have this conversation in a way that enhances rather than takes away from their connection: http://www.prenupsforlovers.com
Happy wedding planning!