While you are at the beginning of your relationship, the last thing you want to think about is the possible end of the relationship. Nothing can be more like a bucket of iced water being thrown on you than bringing up the subject of a prenuptial agreement.
Regardless of how difficult the conversation is, there are situations where a prenuptial agreement is extremely important. If you are the owner of a business, regardless of its size and success, in order to protect the business and your partners, you are going to want to set reasonable expectations on what role the business will play in your married lives.
Whether the subject of a prenup becomes productive or it destroys the relationship before it starts comes down to how the subject is brought up and how it is handled. There are lawyers who, during negotiations, will treat your fiancé as the enemy and will even recommend you not discuss the prenup without your attorneys present. This is a sure-fire way to start off on a wrong foot. The last thing you want is for the process to become adversarial. It can be a cloud over the entire relationship causing it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How can you bring up the prenup without it destroying the relationship?
1 – Start the conversation early.
The earlier the better. These are seeds that are best planted even before there is an engagement. Set early expectations to take the surprise, pressure and emotion out of it.
2 – Decide on the terms together.
Marriage is about collaboration. Do not start the relationship off as adversaries. A pre-drafted agreement puts your fiancé on the defensive. The agreement will be skewed forcing your fiancé to hire their own lawyer who may be put in the role of having to take an adversarial position to protect her client. You are then staring off in a bad place.
3 – Voice what you want and your concerns
It is important to draft a prenuptial agreement without anger or resentment. You have to honest with your partner and you have to honest to yourself. If you have specific items of interest, talk about them and why they are of interest. The reasons may be personal history, or family history. The reasons my have to do with personal beliefs or experiences. If you are open and honest with your partner, you have a better chance of drafting an agreement that you are both happy with.
4 – Listen to your partner
A negotiation is a back-and-forth. Do not go in dictating terms putting your partner on the defense. Listen to their concerns and ideas. Put yourself in their position and try to see things from their perspective. This will help from a standpoint of the prenup as well as in your marriage in general. If you run into a place where there is a disagreement, consider a compromise. Find creative solutions to the problem at hand. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to build a partnership. This should not be looked at as a battle.
5 – Realize that things change over time.
Nothing is static in life. Your relationship will grow as will your assets, your job, your finances and if you own a business, that will change as well. After you get married, you may change your job or your business. Your spouse may come to work for the business and even wind up with a stake in the business. Perhaps when you have children you may decide that your partner will stay home with the kids. You may start a whole new business altogether. There may also be a time where if things are not going well with the business, your partner may be supporting you and your business. The terms of the prenuptial agreement should reflect these possibilities.
The most important thing is to realize that a prenuptial agreement can very easily become adversarial. You are starting to build a life together. Don’t build it with crack in the foundation. Have compassion and respect for your partner. Work on the agreement together and show that you are starting your lives together in good faith.
If you have any questions or if you wish to discuss your situation further, please do not hesitate to contact us at 408-267-8484, or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.