One of the most popular days of the year to propose is Valentine’s Day.
For those of us who have been married once already, there may be anticipated wedding jitters associated with tying the knot for the “second time around.” And while you are madly in love, you also must remember that marriage is a financial partnership that comes with legal implications.
Some statistics show that second and third marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. Further, up to 25% of marriages end because of financial issues.
Therefore, as you plan the most romantic and memorable way to propose, it is critical to consider what your financial union will look like, and as a part of that, how you will discuss sometime soon, the prenuptial (or premarital) agreement.
Thinking of Proposing on Valentine’s Day? Propose a Prenup, Too!
A prenuptial agreement commonly referred to as a “prenup,” is a legal contract entered into before marriage or civil union that is unique to each couple but typically addresses financial issues including division of property and spousal support in the event the marriage breaks down.
When is the right time to discuss the prenuptial agreement? It is not when the wedding plans are made, nor as you are walking down the aisle. The time to have the discussion about the prenuptial agreement is well in advance of the wedding and prior to venues being secured, the band being paid and invitations sent.
A discussion about the prenuptial agreement can be extremely romantic. After all, you are now taking another step toward committing yourself completely to another person, In this case, being honest and transparent about important and sensitive issues such as finances.
With a prenuptial agreement in mind, it is important to have a complete understanding of your partner’s financial situation, your own financial situation, and also to be sure that you and your future spouse are honest and transparent about financial expectations.
Another important aspect of discussing a prenuptial agreement is the realization that with marriage comes planning. That means being honest about career goals, debt such as school loans and credit cards, expectations about child rearing and future inheritances and assets accumulated from prior marriages.
- Here are a few financial scenarios that are common to consider with respect to second marriages, and a few related questions to discuss with your soon to be spouse:
- If you or your future spouse are entering the relationship with children from prior marriages, there are many issues to consider, such as payment of child support and college obligations for those children. Some topics to discuss include:
- Will you be contributing to those expenses if your spouse has children from a prior marriage, or will your spouse be utilizing Separate Property assets to pay for his/her children’s expenses?
- If this is a second (or third) marriage for you and/or your future spouse, here are some topics to discuss:
- How will you deal with your spouse’s obligations to pay alimony to a former spouse?
- Does your future spouse have an obligation to maintain life insurance for a former spouse?
- Is your future spouse responsible to pay certain expenses for a former marital residence?
Issues will vary widely for each person and couple, but the common theme remains the same: be honest and transparent.
While hindsight is 20/20, the advantage of entering into a second marriage is that you have learned what issues to spot and how to ensure the peace of mind that a prenup can bring to you and your future spouse.
So, propose on Valentine’s Day and then, in the not too distant future, discuss the prenup!
Lisa Zeiderman is a matrimonial lawyer, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®)and managing partner at New York law firm Miller Zeiderman & Wiederkehr, LLP. As both a family lawyer and a CDFA®, she is uniquely equipped to understand and negotiate complex financial matters related to marriage and divorce. She has extensive experience with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, child custody, high net worth divorces, and other divorce-related complex financial issues. www.mzwnylaw.com