How to talk to your future spouse about a prenuptial agreement

The marriage proposal was picture perfect, and you and your betrothed couldn't be more excited to spend the rest of your lives together. There's just one lingering issue you're afraid to bring up: the prenuptial agreement.

Prenups used to be the strict domain of the wealthy and previously married. And while those with a high income or children from a previous relationship should still strongly consider drafting a prenup, these agreements are also gaining popularity with younger people getting engaged for the first time. Yes, there are laws in every state that address how property should be divided in the event of divorce. But if you and your mate want to deviate at all from those laws, a prenup is well worth considering.

The question is, how do you bring up the topic to your future husband or wife? Will you kill your chances of that future with the mere suggestion of a prenup? Here are a few tips to make the conversation less scary for both of you.

Do it as early as you can. As much as you may want to put it off, this is not a talk to have on the way to the ceremony. A prenuptial agreement can be ruled invalid if it was signed under pressure or without both parties reading it carefully. In fact, the sooner you discuss the matter after you first become engaged, the more likely it is that your loved one will remember that you proposed -- or said yes -- and have no interest in divorcing.

Emphasize the mutual benefits. Even if there is an income disparity between you and your partner, a prenup is good for any couple that wants to deviate from the laws that apply to property and asset division in their home state. It's also ideal for ensuring that if you do split up, you won't spend any more money than necessary on your legal fees. For instance, does your beloved have a pet that you'll share when you marry? If both of you would rather avoid a costly pet custody battle, you can do that by laying out your own terms in a prenup.

You can also suggest seeking out an attorney together, one you mutually trust and who can offer plenty of guidance for both of you. Not only will this ensure your agreement is legally binding, but your future spouse may feel more comfortable knowing that his or her interests are being served as well as yours. Be sure that the attorney focuses on family law, is highly experienced in drafting prenups and is familiar with the laws in your state.

Frame it as a larger discussion about your finances as a family. Think about how many couples you know who fight over money or have even divorced over it. If you can't talk about money now, when you're deeply in love and before any marital conflict arises, what will happen when you have a monetary crisis down the road? Before you even mention "the P word" you can talk about other scenarios for supporting each other, such as whether one of you will stop working if you have children, or how you'll manage if one of you wants to go back to school.

Even if you ultimately decide a prenup isn't for you, having an open, honest and loving conversation about how you'll share your resources as a married couple is invaluable.

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