Look, I think it’s a really bad idea to go into your marriage thinking too hard about how you’re going to get out of it. That’s a red flag that all is not well in Weddingland. Still, there are times when a pre-nup is a prudent step to take.
Does it have a place in your life? Let’s take a look and see.
Have you been married before?
Whether that previous marriage ended in death or divorce, chances are that you acquired property during that marriage. If so, a pre-nup can help you protect your rights to that property should the marriage end. This is particularly important if you have children from your first marriage. In that case, the rights you’re protecting are theirs.
When my grandmother remarried several years after my grandfather’s death, she signed a pre-nup to protect the rights of both her heirs and his. My father and aunt wouldn’t have tried to take anything from his family, and his family wouldn’t have tried to take anything from us, but having everything written down and notarized meant that there was no chance of confusion. When my grandmother was widowed a second time, his heirs got everything they had coming to them from their father’s estate, and were able to mourn without having to wrangle with anyone for their own property.
On the other hand, some friends of mine and Mr. Twistie’s are currently going through legal hades in the wake of their mother’s death. When their mother remarried, she and her new husband assumed that since they both intended to do right by the offspring of previous marriages, there was no need to sign a pre-nup… and they both felt that writing wills was too morbid to consider. A few months ago, my friends’ mother died. Her husband’s kids immediately swooped in and took everything and bundled their father off to a nursing home. It could take years to straighten everything out.
Interestingly enough, I believe my father was saved from making a huge mistake by a pre-nup.
After my mother’s death, and a suitable period of mourning, my father did begin to date again. He was quite taken with one woman he met. They got serious… and then one day she was simply gone. As it turns out, they had started discussing marriage, and my father said he would want a pre-nup since both had children from previous marriages. She adamantly refused. With three divorces behind her and a daughter she was supporting, she said no pre-nup. At that point, my father said no pre-nup, no wedding. And that, my friends, was that.
He wasn’t willing to gamble with the property, investments, and family heirlooms he intended to pass on to me and my brothers. He didn’t want us winding up in legal entanglements with a stepmother or stepsister.
Pre-nups make little sense if you’re both just starting out, there aren’t any children, and there isn’t any significant property. But if either of you has children and property… or even just property… it might be a really smart idea.