Although roaming the threads of Reddit can be fun, and at times quite informative, it's probably not the best place to source your relationship advice. However, I recently stumbled upon a string of threads about marriage and prenuptial agreements. For those who are not aware, a prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a contract in which a couple agrees on the ownership of their premarital assets and how their marital property will be divided in the event of a divorce.
As someone who never considered getting a prenup before I got married, I was intrigued to hear about what others thought and their experiences with prenups. Here's what I found:
The first thing I noticed was that the overwhelming majority of those on Reddit recommend getting a prenuptial agreement before getting married.
Anonymous: "You don't buy car insurance because you think you're gonna wreck your car. You hope nothing ever happens to your car, but if it does, you have the insurance in place to make sure the expenses don't ruin your life."
pathein_mathein: "This is where shit gets real. This is the first time you have to both think about, and legally commit to, a plan of action where it spells out possible unfortunate consequences of your current emotions. This is where you have to plan out your future in a legally binding way. A prenup is much more than "I won't screw you over." This is where you have to have a series of difficult conversations about negative thoughts, and hopefully reach a fair compromise at the end. This is a macrocosm of what you will be doing each and every day throughout your marriage."
AdmiralAtLaw: "I'm a lawyer; I would recommend anyone to have one. Even if there isn't a discrepancy in wealth, it's better to have this sorted while you're in love and care about each other, instead of as a war afterwards."
One of the most common reasons that redditors cited for getting a prenup was our inability to predict the future.
cat_herder_2000: "The thing is, you never know what might happen in the future. Our intent is to keep our finances separate, and the kids will inherit from their own parent. If one of us has a midlife crisis/asks for a divorce/whatever, we know where we stand. I can say that when questions have come up (major purchase decisions, expenses for kids), we have gone back to the terms of the agreement to make a decision. I am glad we discussed things in detail before we married."
skin_diver: "You really can't predict how someone is going to change over time, or how they will react during some hypothetical future instance of extreme emotional distress. I don't think it's that crazy to want a prenup to establish a little security and peace of mind, juuuust in case, even if you love and completely trust the person."
People are also more than willing to share their experiences with having or not having a prenuptial agreement. As is usually the case with Reddit, most stories fell on either side of the spectrum, with few in between. People who got a prenup said it was great for their marriage, while those who didn't said they would regret it for the rest of their lives.
37badideas: "Then she had a mid-life crisis, left me and the kids, ran away with her (married) guitar player, and tried to take much more than half of our shared (that I earned) assets, including my inheritance. As a non-working spouse, the state heavily favored her in the asset split, despite the fact I had custody of the kids and kept all their expenses 100%. She even got a big share of the inheritance that "separate property" rules should have kept safe because it was never commingled, but judges have a wide latitude to make exceptions."
Lazlo-Red: "I advise my clients that the prenup is the starting point of divorce negotiations. Prenups are just the first line of defense. If you get married and have money, your life will revolve around the prenup and the money. I kid you not! I wrote a solid prenup and postnup for a friend and his wife. Every time we hung out, she would mention the fact that she could not get to his money. She made a play, lost, and they are still together. The prenup & postnup saved his marriage, for whatever that is worth."
GhostFour: "We have a prenup. Neither of us looked at it as some form of distrust or anything negative. Neither of us had money or expected any future windfalls. We just thought it would be one less thing to worry about. It's pretty cut and dry since we were broke kids. Whatever I buy is mine, whatever she buys is hers, and whatever we buy will be split 50/50. It will cost you less than $100 and protect BOTH of you if things take a bad turn."
bliztex: "I wish I had drawn one up. It would mean that my ex-husband would have to give me all of my family heirlooms back, including the bed I had when I was in high school, our daughters baby stuff, including her baby bed that he is now using for his mistress's new baby. I got one bag of belongings when I left with my daughter. He sold, destroyed, or is using everything else. When I was younger, I was sure I loved him and it would last... No one goes into marriage expecting the worst, but it is very responsible to think about the future not working out the way we hope."
While people against prenups were few and far between, there were some interesting perspectives coming from this side of the argument.
MrHufflepuff: Before we got married, my wife's friends and family started suggesting to her to get a prenup, and she was convinced and asked me to sign one. I have to say that I was pretty offended. I wouldn't say that I was hurt, I completely understood where she was coming from, but I was offended that she thought that if we ever got a divorce that I would come after her family's money (I would obviously never dream of doing anything like that). I told her that I would sign anything she wanted me to, but I also explained how I would never come after her or her money in any way if we got divorced. Her wanting me to sign a prenup made me feel like such a poor person, and pretty worthless to tell you the truth. I felt like she was too good for me, and I was just a poor boy who would never "fit in" with her wealthy friends and family. To be honest, I started questioning how strong our relationship really was, and it made me want to call off the wedding, even though I never expressed those exact feelings to my wife.
beanfiddler: "Prenups are really not great ideas for the majority of people, because it's fairly common that judges strike down those that are seen as going contrary to the state's vested interest in encouraging marriage. Basically, if your prenup is too advantageous for one spouse over the other, judges don't like it. There's also a lot of things that prenups really can't sign away, like child support and alimony. If you make the mistake of including something in it that a judge doesn't like, they can strike down the whole document."
Of course, there were just those who were just pessimistic about the idea of marriage itself.
The_Man_on_the_Wall: "Dont Get Married. Period. Love shouldn't be a bindable contract from the state that forces you into indentured servitude should one person decide that you no longer give them the tingles."
Emilleigh: "I appreciate your business logic, but marriage is not a business partnership. I think if one is so concerned about the marriage ending resulting in financial issues, one should just not get married."
One of the most interesting trends that I found was on the AskWomen subreddit. Most women appeared to be OK with signing a prenup as long as it was based on sound reasoning.
flyingcatpotato: "If he has no real assets to protect and is worried that i am going to spermjack him and take his Xbox and wants a prenup because he thinks all women are golddiggers, there will be no prenup or wedding."
missrex: "I would respect the guy's want for a prenup, although the attitude with which he expresses it would be a factor."
carboncle: "Depends on what he thinks it should cover. I consider anything we earn during the marriage to be our stuff, not his stuff, because we both make choices that help the other one succeed on the understanding that we're a unit, and we shouldn't be penalized for that. But if he has heirlooms or something from before the marriage, or a trust/inheritance that's supposed to come through later, that can make some sense."
Finally, it wouldn't be Reddit without ridiculous comments like the ones below.
MadPoetModGod: "Hey! If some dame thinks she can marry me and then just dip out when she gets her hands on my Lord of the Rings bookends (the ones that came with the extended version of Fellowship) she's got another thing coming! It's prenup or no nup, baby!"
Wandering_Runner: "If you ain't no punk holler, "WE WANT PRENUP!"
Lazlo-Red: "Prenups are a prophylactic measure; like a condom, they work most of the time but can break with tragic results."
I can't say that I was convinced that signing a prenup is the definite way to go based on Reddit. Nevertheless, getting a different perspective was thought-provoking and oddly entertaining. Feel free to share your prenup experiences below. I'd love to hear from you!
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Business Valuators / CPAs