I love you. You’re perfect. Now, sign this.

Q: Who should have a prenuptial agreement?

Engaged couples have so many appointments to make and contracts to sign before the big day. Caterer? Check. Photographer? Check. Florist? Check. Prenuptial agreement attorney? Whoa!

Nothing puts a damper on the pending wedding plans quite like one partner asking the other to sign a prenuptial marital agreement. In a nutshell, a prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”) is a pre-wedding day legal document and enforceable agreement between the engaged couple that plans for and designates how their assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. Divorce is likely the farthest thing from their minds.

It is an almost universal fact that no one walks down the aisle thinking they are going to get a divorce. Yet the number of couples getting a divorce in Pennsylvania proves things don’t always work out the way we hoped or planned. That’s why planning in advance for the possibility of a divorce is wise and why couples should resist the knee-jerk, heck-no reaction when your beloved asks you to sign a prenup.

After shooting down the “We’ll never get a divorce” argument against a prenup, the next common objection is worrying about offending your partner by asking for one. There’s an understandable fear of being wrongfully perceived as less committed to the success of the marriage—or just as a heartless jerk—when planning your exit strategy before even tying the knot.

But, it’s all in the presentation. A marriage is a partnership and because it involves the combining of assets and liabilities over time, it is in some ways like a business relationship as far as money is concerned. You wouldn’t enter into a business partnership without first establishing and agreeing to the exit procedures in the event one of the partners wanted to leave, would you?

With respect to a marriage, each partner has assets and debts prior to the marriage and the couple accumulates other assets and debts during the course of the marriage. By entering into a prenuptial agreement as to how those debts and assets will be handled in the event of a future divorce—now– when the couple is happy and can make rational decisions, they avoid letting the court decide their fate later. Prenups are not only for those with children from prior marriages.

Not getting a prenup because you think you aren’t wealthy enough yet is also a mistake. A prenup will cover “the equitable split of wealth related to investments and savings, possible alimony payments and debt – which could include student loans, especially if you cosign or continue taking out student loans” after marriage.

Prenuptial agreements also enable couples to “dictate certain terms of life after divorce with lifestyle clauses”. Gag orders, goodwill clauses, and social media clauses, basically force ex-spouses to refrain from trashing each other or exposing private dirt publicly.

Still hesitant to ask for a prenup?

Well, there is always the postnuptial agreement. While you won’t have the option to walk away before the wedding if your partner refuses to consider it, a postnuptial agreement entered into after the marriage can cover the same issues and decisions as a prenuptial agreement.

If you would like more information about Pennsylvania prenuptial and postnuptial marital agreements, the Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. can help. Contact us today to discuss your legal concerns. From our office in Reading, we represent clients in family law and other areas throughout Pennsylvania.