Written and posted on behalf of Brent Hemington.
The Pros of a Good Prenup: Helping Couples Get on the Same Page
Nobody wants to think about a prenuptial agreement or the possibility of divorce when they’re about to get married, and understandably so! The last thing you want to think about when embarking on a new life with the one you love is the chance of it ending…
But unfortunately divorce does happen. Not only that, but it can happen at any point in a marriage.
So while it is no doubt an unpleasant consideration to have while preparing to exchange vows, the statistics tell us that a prenuptial agreement is something that really should happen.
That said, a good prenup agreement is much more than just an insurance policy for possible divorce!
A Different Perspective on Prenups
Being a family law advocate with decades of practical experience has taught me that the concept of a “prenup” has an inherently negative connotation. For virtually every client I have helped, a prenuptial agreement has been synonymous with preparing for an eventual divorce.
Though I understand why this might be the case, there is another way of looking at it:
A good prenuptial agreement can actually help your marriage.
Yes, you read that right – prenups can actually be a huge boost for your union!
“Prenuptial Agreement” vs. “Marital Contract”
A quick word on semantics here, if I may… The term “prenup” or “prenuptial agreement” is actually an American term.
Here in Canada, we often refer to these agreements as “domestic contracts” or “marriage contracts”. While essentially the same thing, I like to think that the difference in terminology is helpful in altering this document’s public perception.
At its core, a “contract” is an outline of expectations and duties. So with a marriage contract, you and your fiancé are agreeing to a clearly defined set of expectations from the get-go… Which might just be a really good idea.
Using a Marriage Contract to Get on the Same Page
Marriage contracts/prenuptial agreements can deal with everything, from the obvious division of assets upon the relationship’s termination to how any children will be educated and raised.
Establishing and clearly defining these guidelines at the outset of your life together helps both you and your beloved to get on and stay on the same page – literally and metaphorically. You have established your priorities, both as individuals and as a couple, and literally spelled them out for each other in the form of a domestic contract that both of you have read and signed.
In the end, this really takes the guesswork out of many aspects of your life as a married couple!
Intentions & Consequences
What’s more, prenup agreements can also help both partners to agree to separation and/or divorce only under certain circumstances such as infidelity or cruelty or abuse. This is worth noting because, in Canada, there exists the “no fault divorce” where divorce is granted after a full year’s separation has elapsed.
Setting out in writing the circumstances under which you and your beloved would even consider parting ways may well allow for some “breathing room”. By establishing the specific grounds for a divorce, a couple can be aware of what does and does not constitute a serious and irreconcilable difference or situation. In other words, you both understand and agree to “stick it out” in all circumstances, save those to which you have both already identified and agreed are most dire.
These contracts can even include clauses that outline the actions you, as a couple, agree to take in the event of marital problems. You can include a section where you both agree to marital counseling, or even a section requiring an extended vacation!
In the end, depending on how a couple approaches the idea of a prenuptial agreement – AKA: marriage or domestic contract – this could easily become a document that saves your union when times get tough (as they tend to do off-and-on throughout the course of your loves together).
Getting a marriage agreement is easy and affordable – not to mention a wise idea for any couple embarking on married life! If there is ever an ideal time to consult an experienced family lawyer about drafting a prenup that’s right for you & your betrothed, it is right now.
As a family lawyer with over 30 years of experience, I can help you with your domestic contract. My focus is on resolving conflict – not creating it. And, in this case, I can even help prevent it!
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment.