Wanna start a fight? Talk prenup

Just so there is no confusion, Girl Ninja and I wont have a prenuptial agreement. Neither Girl Ninja, or myself, have amassed a great fortune thus we have no need for one. Furthermore, from a purely statistical view, we have a lower probability of divorce. We both share similar spiritual beliefs; neither of our parents, or even grandparents, have been divorced; we did not move in together prior to marriage; and we’ve never participated in “adult” activities together.**

Anywho, Yesterday, I talked about how Girl Ninja and I will operate our financial lives. The idea of a prenuptial agreement was mentioned in the comments section twice so I thought I would share my $0.02 on them today.

If you don’t know what a prenup is, it’s a contract entered into prior to marriage which commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce. They are more common amongst the wealthy. The idea is if Joe, a 50 year old millionaire, marries some 20 year old hottie (and she signs a prenup) she will not have the right to half of his fortune in the event they divorce. It’s basically a contract that prevents, or limits, gold-digging.

I’ve managed to get in to three fights (all with girls) when it comes to talking prenuptial agreements. The conversations usually start something like this…

Someone brings up the idea of a prenup

Me: I don’t think they are that terrible, I could understand why some people would want them.

Random Girl: What? Are you crazy? I would never marry someone if they made me sign a prenup.

Me: Why?

Random Girl: Because, like, a prenup totally means that, like, you are counting on getting divorced.

Me: No it doesn’t.

Random Girl: You’re right. It doesn’t. I was silly to think that it did. You are so smart ninja and your biceps look especially strong today.

Okay, that’s not exactly how the conversations go. Typically, the girl usually ends up screaming at me for defending prenups. I’m sitting here wondering if most women think prenups are bad, or if it’s just some freak coincidence that every girl I know hates them.

My stance:

While I don’t think the majority of marriages pose a need for a prenup, I could definitely understand why some couples would want one. I like to think of them as an insurance policy. You have car insurance right? Do you plan on getting in an accident? Probably not. Similarly, most married couples don’t plan on getting a divorce. The prenup acts an insurance policy in the event someone wants to break things off. Remember, it was a predetermined agreement laying out how your financial assets will be distributed. There is no ability for the woman (or man) to try and suck their spouse dry since the contract already discloses the terms.

Girl Ninja’s stance:

She believes, like most of us probably do, that marriage is a lifetime commitment. She’s particularly fond of the “Til death do you part” aspect. If both people truly mean those words when they marry, there should be no need for a prenup. To her, a prenup implies you are essentially doubting the success of your marriage from day one, and if there is even a slight doubt, you’re not ready to get hitched.

I can’t really fault Girl Ninja for her thought process because she believes in the integrity of a promise, and so do I. I also have to admit, if I was about to marry a femaleionaire (get it, female millionaire) and she wanted me to sign a prenup, I would probably be pretty hurt (or at least offended).

I don’t think there is a winning opinion in this debate, but I sure would LOVE to hear your thoughts…

  • What’s your stance on prenups?
  • Are there certain circumstances they are okay? Or should they cease to exist?
  • If your S.O. asked you to sign one, would you? Or would you be pretty offended?
  • Do you have stories about prenups and family or friends?

**Update: It appears that premarital sex and residing with your partner prior to marriage no longer results in a higher probability of divorce compared to those who don’t. Many of you pointed out in the comments below that you no longer thought those stats were relevant, and it turns out you are right. It appears in the 70’s and 80’s those stats were true, but in our current generation that’s no longer the case. I appreciate you all keeping me honest and fact checking my posts. I always strive to post relevant factual content, but sometimes I guess my facts are outdated (I’m not perfect). I have no problem conceding when I am wrong. And on this post, I was wrong. I never intended to pass any judgment on couples that have lived together or had premarital sex, you are your own person and have to do what is right and best for your relationship 🙂 Sorry again

36 thoughts on “Wanna start a fight? Talk prenup

  1. I don't have a pre-nup with my wife. Her and I share similiar circumstances to what you have described in that there really isn't any record of divorce in our family's history (and the same about the adult activities lol).

    I make slightly more than twice that she does and I would suffer a considerable loss if we were divorced, particularly under Canadian laws. Ultimately, the loss I would suffer would be personal and that is more significant to me.

    If either of us were wealthy I don't think the pre-nup would be a problem. Marriage is both a personal contract and a business agreement.

    Morglum

  2. You ask the most interesting questions; very thought-provoking.

    Personally, I don't have a prenup with my husband. We got married at 24 (started dating at 18, we're now 39); I was in school, he was working; neither of us had many assets, neither of us had substantial debt.

    That said, I think if there's a substantial income or net-worth disparity, a prenup makes sense. No, it's not romantic at all, but (let's be honest here) most of the day-to-day work of being married isn't romantic, either. Yes, I love my husband like crazy and trust him with my life and my soul and can't imagine that either of us is (or would ever be) less than 100% committed to our union. But what I do know is that even things I cannot imagine have been known to happen. A prenup is the safety net that protects against the unthinkable, the unimaginable.

    So, there you have it: a woman who doesn't hate prenups.

  3. I believe in prenups. I don't think it's a matter of being wealthy or not. I simply believe having them in the background is a good idea.

    I also believe that marriages are to be entered into seriously. And it's a commitment to one another. A lifelong commitment not to be entered lightly. And I do not believe in divorce.

    With both being said, I don't believe one is neccessarily dependent on the other. They can be mutually exclusive ideas. I think of it as insurance. Just because I have faith in my relationship working out & I know I will try my best on making it work out but that doesn't mean I can guarantee nothing will happen or the other side won't change their minds.

    It's like having a beautiful new house. Everything's fresh and new now but twenty years down the road, all it might need is some TLC. But if something hits the fan, it's nice to have a pre-nup for insurance.

    Being in love is all great and dandy but being financially smart is good too. Why must it be either or?

    • I completely agree with you. Interestingly enough, I don't believe in divorce either, notwithstanding my profession as a divorce attorney. But I do feel that prenups and commitments can be mutually exclusive, and you don't subrogate one under the other by entering into one.

  4. There is no problem with a prenup! I absolutely agree with FinCatastrophizer about the circumstances for them. I think it's just chance that has you interacting only with girls who hate them. I would sign a prenup; in fact, I'm probably going to be the one to suggest it.

  5. Female in favor of prenups here. I plan on spending the rest of my life with him, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be dumb about it.

  6. I understand your point about the pre-nup. However, every study that I've ever read said that couples that don't have sex before marriage are more statistically likely to get a divorce than couples that do. So I'm not sure where the evidence for your claim is in your post. Could you provide a link because it is a study I am not aware of (If it's something you were told in church, you may want to read the science journals on the topic).

    Also, the whole "adult activities" name is pretty lame. I'm curious why you don't just call it sex. Are you expressing your shame over your sexuality? Is this something common to your religion? I mean, you are both in your mid-twenties and all studies have shown that the frequency of sex is the largest predictor of a couple's ability to stay married and prevent divorce (doesn't bode well for you and GN as you have no idea how frequent or enjoyable your sex life will be). I've been living with my boyfriend for 5 years and we have had to work so hard on sex; I am so thankful that I am with a partner with whom I am sexually compatible. (Also, you are mis-interpreting the living together data as well. However, I have a statistics PhD so I am kinda a freak about data interpretation).

    • You know, I never read through science journals for fun. I do recall reading some news stories referencing sex before marriage and cohabiting are more likely to lead to divorce. If you have your PhD in Stats, and you are familiar with the literature, then I guess you know what you are talking about, and I would be more than happy to concede those stats don't favor a higher divorce rate. Thanks for pointing that out.

      You said "studies have shown that the frequency of sex is the largest predictor of a couple's ability to stay married and prevent divorce (doesn't bode well for you and GN as you have no idea how frequent or enjoyable your sex life will be)"

      I think that is an unfair statement. When you say "doen't bode well" that implies that GN and I are more likely to have a bad sex life. You have no idea what Girl Ninja's and my sex life will be like, and frankly neither do I because we haven't had sex yet. It seems that you have made the assumption that because we both mutually chose to abstain from sex, that our marital sex life will surely suffer. I don't think that's a fair logic. Just as you said you and your BF have had to work hard on sex, Girl Ninja and I also will. Can you explain why our choice to not have sex doesn't "bode well" for us, without assuming it means our sex life is going to be miserable?

      Lastly, I have no qualms about using the word sex. I simply put "adult activities" one time when I first referenced it and have decided to stick with it, no other reason aside from that. Plus my mom reads my blog, and I'm probably a little shy of talking about my future sex life, knowing she will be reading it. I also don't understand what made you assume that the reference to "adult activities" was something I learned from my religion. In fact, my church frequently speaks about sex, and when they do, they call it sex. I have no shame over sexuality.

      I don't really understand how you can take one phrase I use for sex, and deduce that I am shamed by my sexuality and that it is something I learned from my religion. Where did that come from?

      Thanks for pointing out my misinformed stats on divorce though, input is always appreciated 🙂

      • Debt Ninja, I think Sarah is wrong in claiming that it "doesn't bode well" for you and Girl Ninja that you haven't had sex yet. You and GN have religious convictions, and you're sticking to them. I think that's wonderful. It shows that, even with all this temptation to do what everyone else is doing, you two can stick to your principles. Many people claim that you should "test drive the car" before buying it and compare that to sex before marriage. But I think the chances that you're incompatible sexually are very slim, and more goes into sex than just "technique," which I'm sure you'll both master after marriage. Having a strong emotional connection and being in tune with each other affect your sex life as much as actual sexual experience, and you can have both of those things without jumping into bed with someone. It was nice that you wrote such a considerate response to such a misinformed and mean sounding comment. 🙂

      • I do think Sarah was going a little far with the question about shame over sexuality. But I think maybe some people are misinterpreting her "doesn't bode well" statement.

        She's not saying that it's going to cause you to divorce. She is saying that, since it's a leading indicator, that's not a good thing since you don't KNOW how your sexual compatibility is. That said, you have other things that will help your marriage — namely your commitment to lifelong marriage, strong commitment and, from what you've said here, an understanding that things are always going to need work.

    • Sarah,

      This post is highlighted with hypocrisy. You are attacking the interpretation of data while poorly interpreting data.

      Now, here is my poor interpretation of data:
      Given your poor use of parenthesise, I would doubt you have achieved the shear writing carnage necessary to earn the title of "Doctor of Philosophy" in statistics. If I am wrong, you should consult your APA manual before "publishing" your professional conjectures. Surely someone with that level of scientific achievement would not be so narrow focused to believe there are only two answers – one right and one wrong.

      Please challenge facts with facts. 🙂 Thanks!

  7. My husband and I had no need for a prenup, but I certainly would have suggested one if we had. No one wants to prepare for the worst, but you have to protect yourself and be mindful of your future – with or without your partner.

  8. Even if you don’t have a ton of money now, you could still get a pre-nup. For example, my cousin (who is broke as a joke now) will inherit a lot of money when her parents die. Her husband signed a pre-nup because of that. I think I’ll probably find myself in a similar situation. It’s a little awk, but I think it’s important.

  9. My BF and I have brought up the subject of prenups and I am all for them. You never know what is going to happen, and you have to be realistic about the fact that not everyone lives happily ever after. No one plans to get divorces but it happens.

    • Anonymous, thank you for that! Lol, I took a little offense to that claim in this post, because the studies that show cohabitating couples are more likely to get divorced are based on people who were living together in the 70s and 80s, not modern couples who think living together before marriage is no big thing. And many other factors go into cohabitating couples getting divorced, like whether they're doing it to "test the relationship," whether they have children, etc. D and I moved in together because he was practically living here already, spending almost every night with me, and it made sense financially for him to move in. The only real change between us living together and us dating was that he moved more stuff over.

  10. I think that pre-nups are ok under a few circumstances.
    1) One person has amassed great wealth and the other has not.
    2) The pre-nup should only protect the wealth that existed prior to marriage. Anything earned after the marriage should be shared.

    That's it. simple huh?

  11. Funny how attitudes change.
    Before my marriage, when we both had nothing, I used to think prenups were insulting.
    Now, after being divorced for 13 years and financially fighting tooth and nail to keep my home and pay it off, I would NEVER marry/live with someone without having a prenup. In this country if you live with someone for over 6 months they are entitled to a share of the financial pie. It would shrivel my soul if my kids and I sacrificed for years and then some guy waltzed away with half of our house.

  12. I agree with Girl Ninja in that if you think you might someday have a chance of getting a divorce and need a prenup to "insure" that thought, you should not be getting married.

    I also wanted to point out, that weather couples live together or not before marriage is no longer statistically accurate as a cause of divorce. Both couples that do and do not have an equal chance of divorce nowadays.

  13. Yep PRENUPS are evil and will sure get you both arguing.

    I think PRENUPS are dumb. If someone enters into one, it just means you don't trust your partner and think they are in it for the money or possible divorce in the future.

    Here a Story: My friend confided in me that she was having issues with her fiance because he had asked her for a prenup. He is a successful businessman and has multiple real estates whereas she is just a part-time worker. Because of this request, she got offended and feels betrayed. They are no longer together because she did not want a prenup since she truly loved him and not his money.

    http://moneyhoneysf.blogspot.com/

  14. Ninja,

    Please provide references for the following:

    "We both share similar spiritual beliefs; neither of our parents, or even grandparents, have been divorced; we did not move in together prior to marriage; and we’ve never participated in “adult” activities together. The odds are in our favor "

    How did you come to this conclusion? I am not saying you are wrong, but this is a blog about finance (i.e. science), so I would expect your topics to be well researched and factual.

    Thanks in advance!

  15. Wait a second! I don't see why you think that those factors will mean you are less likely to get divorced. It's true that people whose parents are divorced have a higher chance of divorce, but the statistics on couples who live together are inflated. Consider this excerpt from a 2008 article in USA Today:

    "The nature of cohabitation has changed," says Jay Teachman, a sociology professor at Western Washington University in Bellingham. "Cohabitators 20 years ago were the rule breakers, the rebels, the risk takers — the folks who were perhaps not as interested in marriage, and using cohabitation as an alternative to marriage."

    Their study found that women who marry the only man they've ever lived with are actually 28% less likely to divorce than women who never cohabitated with a partner prior to getting married.

    Your other points in that paragraph are valid. Similar religious and economic backgrounds increase the likelihood of having a lasting marriage. However, I'd also like to see your statistics for sex before marriage increasing the likelihood of divorce as I cannot find anything to support or debunk that claim, and I'd suspect that any source that does list it as a component of successful marriage is basing that claim on religious factors. Also, with a statistic like that, you have to consider the poll participants, as older participants are less likely to admit sleeping together before marriage (because of the social stigma previously attached to it). Just thought I'd throw that out there.

  16. As far as prenuptial agreements go, you don't have to be wealthy now to need a prenup in the future. You could win the lottery! Or do something else that makes you a lot of money. In which case, a prenup would be nice to have.

    Being romantically inclined, I don't think they're NECESSARY. But I also don't think people who have them are expecting their marriages to end. They're just taking precautions to protect themselves.

    I like the idea of having one. Like J. Money, I even liked the idea of a renter's agreement that spells out who gets what in the case of the relationship ending. It's just one less thing to worry about if you do split up, not that I think many people care about who gets the sofa when their marriages are falling apart.

    Still, you have to consider the circumstances. With D and I, almost every piece of furniture in the apartment is mine. I wouldn't think it right to split it 50/50 with him in a divorce because I paid for it prior to the marriage. I'd want something on paper that said in the event of a divorce we each take what we paid for. If it's something we both paid for, we have the option to "buy it" from the other person by paying the rest of it. If that can't happen, it should be sold and the profit split two ways.

    But if we were getting married and had nothing but what we bought together, it'd be different. I wouldn't be offended if a man asked me. It's just protected yourself, not thinking the marriage will end.

  17. Wait a second! I don't see why you think that those factors will mean you are less likely to get divorced. It's true that people whose parents are divorced have a higher chance of divorce, but the statistics on couples who live together are inflated. Consider this excerpt from a 2008 article in USA Today:

    "The nature of cohabitation has changed," says Jay Teachman, a sociology professor at Western Washington University in Bellingham. "Cohabitators 20 years ago were the rule breakers, the rebels, the risk takers — the folks who were perhaps not as interested in marriage, and using cohabitation as an alternative to marriage."

    Their study found that women who marry the only man they've ever lived with are actually 28% less likely to divorce than women who never cohabitated with a partner prior to getting married.

    Your other points in that paragraph are valid. Similar religious and economic backgrounds increase the likelihood of having a lasting marriage. However, I'd also like to see your statistics for sex before marriage increasing the likelihood of divorce as I cannot find anything to support or debunk that claim, and I'd suspect that any source that does list it as a component of successful marriage is basing that claim on religious factors. Also, with a statistic like that, you have to consider the poll participants, as older participants are less likely to admit sleeping together before marriage (because of the social stigma previously attached to it). Just thought I'd throw that out there.

  18. You have repeatedly stated that you and your bride-to-be have not had premarital sex. You also have implied (and in this entry explicitly state) that you think this will increase your chances of a long, successful marriage. Can you back this up with some statistics? Are people who hold onto their virginity until marriage really more likely to remain together?

    I haven't seen any statistics on this, but based on my own personal observations, I do not think an individual's engagement in premarital "adult activities" has any meaningful bearing on their likelihood to remain married. I can think of at least three friends who are now divorced (in their late 20s or early 30s) because they "got married too young" (in their own words). On the other hand, I can also think of people who could have been described as promiscuous or "slutty" in their younger years, who now find themselves in happy, committed marriages.

    Now please don't misunderstand me…I'm not saying that refraining from sex will decrease your chances of remaining married for the long-term, either. I just that there are many factors involved in making a marriage last, and in the grand scheme of things, prior sexual experience is just one piece of the puzzle. But sex is important in a marriage. While I respect the decisions that you and your fiancee make regarding your own intimate activities, I think you are wrong to pass judgment on the many people who choose to thoroughly explore the physical boundaries of their relationships before deciding to commit themselves to a lifetime of marriage with their chosen partner.

    • I agree, Executioner. Though I love this blog to death and I don't think Ninja meant to be judgmental of people who haven't done it his way, I was a little offended that he chose to say his chances of a successful marriage are greater than mine (or anyone else's) because he hasn't had sex yet. And I couldn't find any evidence to back up that claim.

      Most statistics that I've found state the age of the person getting married as being a bigger factor in their divorce rate than cohabitation or sexual experience. I've actually found nothing that states premarital sex has an effect on divorce rates one way or the other.

  19. hell no. prenups are great. maybe if my mom had gotten one it would have kept that scum bag away from all her money

  20. If I or my husband-to-be had previously been married, had children, and/or had assets, I would consider getting a prenup. Not sure if I think it would be necessary for the first time, especially if you're young and don't have much. However, I also don't know how debt incurred by one person is considered; if it exists prior to the marriage does it now become the responsibility of both? In that case definitely get a prenup.

  21. I assumed I would have to have a prenup, because there was a time when I owned a rental house. I ended up selling it a couple of years before I even met my now-husband. But I think he would have understood.

    I think it could be seen as somewhat hurtful/insulting. And it could be taken as "So you don't really believe in us?" But when you get down to it, it's a smart financial move for someone who has got a lot to lose. I think believing in love shouldn't preclude you from being aware of your actual odds in this day and age.

  22. Prenuptial agreements are a great way to sit down and talk about things realistically and gain good insight to how the other person feels about conflict and money… You're entering into a legal contract, it's good to be proactive. As you said, nobody plans to get divorced. I'm including this in my Weekend Link Lust post!

  23. I think the alarm bells should start to ring if someone has a strong aversion to not signing one when asked. I believe in love and till death do us part but so do a lot of people that get divorced it is just the way it is. When dealing with people you can not control what another does and if i was cheated on, I would be out of there. But back to the prenup.. i think if one person say owned their own home i believe a prenup shows that yo are thinking about your financial future IF something was to happen. I work very hard for my money and my partner fritters his away, if i can amass a property before we marry then i would want that hard work protected by law if something was to happen.

  24. I think the laws are very different here in Australia, and this automatic 50/50 concept mentioned really isn't the same here. But the legal uses of a pre nup have been touched on, they are useful in a variety of situations, but really it is when a couple have a strong idea about what money/debt/assets should do if there was a separation and the document formalises that strong idea.
    So children from other relationships, high value assets and/or earning potential, debt, and in my area, intergenerational family farming property and assets may all be benefited by formalising a couples wishes prior to marriage. As a another person noted above, it is a great discussion to have, to see if there is a strong idea you our your partner have about your money/property (which may not be automatically supported by the law and require altering in advance).

  25. My partner-in-crime and I wrote and signed an agreement before we moved in together. We set out what belonged to who before the cohabitation, just in case we did break up and wanted our stuff back. We had a clause about not making a single purchase over over X dollars without talking to the other person first. (I think it was $500?) When we bought new furniture, we added to the agreement what would happen if we broke up; A gets the table and two chairs, B gets the other two chairs of A can buy them for X dollars.)

    We've never had to refer to it but it was a nice thing to have when we first started out.

    Others' mileage may vary.

    I think a couple of other posters have mentioned that things acquired before the marriage are fair game, and those acquired after are joint … that would make sense in a lot of ways.

  26. I am with Girl Ninja on this one. At the same time I can see the value of going through the prenup exercise with a third party. It can only reveal more information to make the relationship stronger.

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