My girlfriend and I recently got engaged and I couldn’t be happier. There’s just one problem. My parents want her to sign a prenup so that if the marriage were to end, she wouldn’t be entitled to my assets.
My parents love my girlfriend to bits and I know they’re really happy for us, but they helped me buy a house when I was 22 (two years before I met my girlfriend). They gave me a £40,000 deposit and I paid £20,000 that I’d saved up since I was a teenager. They keep saying that they’d hate to see the money they gave me go to someone else if I was to get a divorce in the future.
I know that I’m an adult and can say no to my parents if I want to, but I don’t want to draw a wedge between us. I guess I’m also not averse to the idea of signing a prenup myself. I’ve had relationships end badly in the past and I know it would have been so much messier if I’d have been married.
I want to spend the rest of my life with my wife to be, but I also want to protect my home in the event that it ended badly. I’m really worried about bringing this up with her. She’s come from a very poor family and although she has a good job and makes decent money, she doesn’t have any assets to her name. I don’t want to hurt her feelings and I know she won’t take it well.
Ben, 30, Bournemouth
I can see both sides to this. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense for you and your parents to want to protect the money you’ve worked hard for. On the other hand, I can completely understand why you fiancee would be upset by being asked to sign a prenup.
Prenups are tricky because most people’s stance on them depends solely on the side they’re on at the time. For example, if I ever get engaged I would certainly consider going down the prenup route in order to protect any assets I earned before the relationship. But, if a partner was to ask me to sign a prenup, my feelings would probably be hurt. Hypocritical, I know.
Prenups are unromantic, but often sensible
When we take our emotions out of the equation, prenups make perfect sense. Divorce statistics show just how many marriages fail and yet very few people get married thinking they’ll ever get a divorce. Every couple thinks they’re an exception to the rule but unfortunately, far too many marriages don’t last forever.
Nevertheless, prenups are the least romantic thing ever. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a couple who have had the prenup discussion without arguing, questioning their future together, or at least throwing something across the room. But if your relationship with the woman you want to marry is really as strong as it should be, you should be able to discuss this with her and come to a solution.
A prenup could work in your fiancee’s favour too
Rather than springing a prenup on your fiancee and expecting her to agree to all your terms before signing on the dotted line, why not make this something you can compose together?
Since she doesn’t have any assets of her own, there may be conditions that she wants to put in the prenup to prevent her from financial uncertainty in the event of a divorce. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to mean she gets your home or money from the sale of it. Instead, you may agree that if she was to ever give up work to raise children, in the event of a divorce she’d receive some compensation for any damage done to her earning abilities. There are thousands of people (mostly women) who have been left struggling for money after a divorce thanks to an abandoned career and no savings of their own. A prenuptial agreement can help to prevent this and ensure a couple can separate in a fair and civilised way.
A prenup could also work in her favour if her career was to really take off in the next few years. Imagine if she suddenly started earning £100,000 a year. Imagine if she wrote a best selling novel that turned her into the next JK Rowling. If you were to then get a divorce without a prenup, there may be disagreements regarding who deserves to walk away with the money.
Don’t make divorces harder than they need to be
A divorce can be one of the most stressful and upsetting times in a person’s life. There’s no need to make it harder with arguments about money or financial uncertainty.
This will be just the first of many tests you’re likely to face in your marriage, and once you overcome the big prenup debate, you can move forward safe in the knowledge that you’ll tackle the rest of life’s challenges in a respectful and loving way!