Being engaged to be married, is an exciting time of planning and anticipation, as you contemplate the next phase of your relationship, with the expectation of a long and happy marriage. But the reality of divorce remains, and second marriages and blended families are common. Increasingly, couples will consider prenuptial agreements as part of their planning, before tying the knot. In this article we explore helpful approaches for how to tell your fiancé you want a prenup.
Prenups (or binding financial agreements) can be a difficult topic to bring up with your partner. Discussing financial affairs is not always easy for couples and expectations may not align. For some, discussing a prenup might be seen as a lack of confidence in the future of the relationship or that you are less committed to your partner, or that you expect the relationship to end. More and more, DDCS Lawyers see that prenups instead provide reassurance and peace of mind to couples, who choose to avoid the risk of conflict at the end of a relationship by talking about what their property settlement would look like now, at the beginning of their relationship.
Here are our five recommendations for how to tell your fiancé you want a prenup.
1. Have clarity about what you want from the prenup
If you are the person asking for the prenup, before you begin the discussion with your fiancé, first be clear about what you need the prenup to do, and why it is important to you. You can work out what are the benefits for both of you in your relationship in having these matters agreed upon, but be mindful and respectful of different views.
Seeking an outside perspective early on, through expert family law legal advice, is recommended. Having a prenup that responds to your needs and circumstances but meets the legal requirements, is essential. You might only be seeking a prenup to protect one particular asset or existing property but working out how to do that and what are the limits or rules around how you treat that property, as life moves on, needs to be contemplated too. Consideration of what happens if you and your partner acquire property together needs to be worked through and all of these discussions can be challenging.
You want to prepare yourself before you go into this conversation having really thought about what you want, as well as what is possible within the law. This is where an early conversation with a family lawyer is most beneficial.
2. Choose your timing carefully
It is never a good idea to tell your partner you want a prenup days before your wedding. Instead, make sure the timing of your conversation is free of as many time pressures as possible so that you both have the opportunity to give the idea of a prenup serious consideration and to engage in constructive discussions.
You each need to feel free to take the time you need to consider all options. You want to avoid any notion that either party would be pressured to enter into the agreement because of a looming wedding date and the pressure of family and social expectations. So have the conversation early and respectfully, allowing time and space for reflection and response.
3. Think through your approach to the conversation beforehand
You will want to ensure the conversation is respectful, to increase the chances of a conflict-free discussion. Do not go into the conversation without doing some prior thinking and preparation. Consider the type of language you use, the timing and context of the discussion, to best convey your wishes to your partner without them feeling it is somehow a reflection of the relationship.
You should approach the discussion knowing that it does not have to be an adversarial process but might instead be one in which each of you may find common ground and mutual interest. You are trying to future proof yourselves as a couple. Most people can think of people they know who have spent too long in conflict at the end of their relationships – the horror stories abound.
4. Identify the benefits for you both
Finding a way to share and agree on mutual benefits of a prenup will make it more likely that your discussions will be positive and constructive. It is important to check your thinking by speaking with a family lawyer who will provide insight into whether a prenup may be effective in your case, and what else you can be doing to style and manage your finances throughout your relationship to best protect your interests.
A prenup will ensure a level of certainty about what will happen to each of your finances and property if the worst is to happen and you separate. Then, when faced with the emotional upheaval that comes with the end of a relationship, you will have confidence about the financial elements and can avoid the upset, uncertainty and financial stress that often follows.
As family lawyers, it is common for us to talk to our clients about how having a road map in the event of separation, can alleviate some pressure or conflict during a relationship. While it can be hard to contemplate the possibility that the person you choose to marry or live with, might be the person you fight with years later, some planning now may help you to avoid costly litigation down the line.
5. Be prepared to listen
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is to be prepared to listen to your partner’s perspective and to be open to negotiating the terms of the prenup. You need to ensure the agreement covers the important issues for you both. This is also one of the benefits of the independent legal advice both parties must receive.
When you work together on a mutually agreed approach, the agreement you resolve will be stronger. Fairness is not a bad guiding principle and will help to ensure one party is not resentful of the agreement or the process.
While prenups prior to getting married or living together are common, you can in fact enter into a prenup or binding financial agreement at any stage of a relationship. It is worth having a discussion about this future planning when your relationship becomes serious or you are approaching living together for two years. Sometimes a party’s circumstances might change during a relationship (such as receiving an inheritance or a gift from family members) and they may at that time want certainty around the future treatment of that property.
If you plan to have children, consideration needs to be given to what this will mean at the end of the relationship and sensible limits to what you are trying to achieve in the prenup can be explored with your lawyer.
Related Articles: Prenuptial Agreements Explained
If you are considering a prenup, we have experienced lawyers in our team who can help you reach an outcome that makes each party feel comfortable and confident in future proofing your relationship. While you will each require independent legal advice, this can be a great place to start. DDCS Lawyers specialise in all aspects of family law and can help guide you through the prenup process. If you need assistance, contact our team on (02) 6212 7600 to book a consultation.