As a fairly cynical person, I’ve always assumed that in the event that I chose to marry, my partner and I would both sign prenups. While I believe in love, I also recognize that a marriage license is a legally-binding contract that can be ended.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my cynicism: in a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, over half of surveyed attorneys noticed an increase in the number of millennials who request prenuptial agreements. But it's not just millennials getting the infamous papers – 62 percent of survey participants witnessed an increase in the total number of clients who seek prenups.
But everyone makes their financial decisions in a relationship for different reasons. We spoke to 3 women about why they did – or didn't – elect to get a prenup.
Pamela L. Bobersky Shoup, President of AMI Benefit Plan Administrators, said she learned from her first marriage that a prenup is necessary.
“I remarried in July, and I asked my husband sign a prenup. It was to protect both of us. It was a second marriage for us both, and we both had assets. I own a company, owned a house and have retirement plan assets as well as other financial assets. He owns a house, has a 401(k) plan and a pension and other financial assets. He also has two grown daughters,” Bobersky Shoup said.
After each experiencing marriage once, the couple had no trouble taking precautions the second time around. “We felt that it was fair for us to both agree that if we get divorced, that we walk out with basically what we walked in with. We both agreed on the provisions of the pre-nup. My attorney drafted it, his attorney reviewed it and we both signed,” she continued.
Bobersky Shoup’s one regret?
“I only wish that I had gotten a prenup the first time around!"
But some women don’t take prenuptials into consideration because of where they are financially when they tie the knot.
“I got married young, and we opted for no prenup since we were both working low paying jobs and we figured if we're sharing now, we'll just figure it out in the future,” said Nyesha L. Davis, a children’s book author. “Now we're more stable and still believe if anything were to happen we should just split our assets down the middle. We've been together for 8 years and married for 4 years. We're doing pretty good!”
Others sign prenups to remove finances from the core of their relationship.
Sales representative Beth Bright opted into signing the agreement when asked without hesitation. “I signed a prenup because I love my husband, not the things that come with him. A marriage is supposed to be for life, so you share everything anyway,” said Bright.
Though prenups are often discussed as a protection put in place in case of divorce, they can be useful in other ways.
“While protection is the prenup’s most commonly-known purpose, it is not the only reason engaged couples choose to get a one,” says Matthew J. Abraham, an attorney. “Prenuptial agreements are a useful tool in estate planning. Couples can list which assets are considered separate property and which are considered shared (or marital) property. Making this distinction before marriage is crucial to prevent separate assets from being misclassified as marital or joint property when a spouse dies.”
While any couple entering a marriage could consider using a prenup as a security measure, there are populations who should especially consider implementing a prenup, according to Abraham.
“Those who are entering their second marriage, those who are marrying later in life, or those who have accumulated significant assets may want to use a prenup to preserve their estate for children from previous relationships, past spouses, or other family members."
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.