Prenuptial agreements are a growing trend, attorney says

The venue is booked, you said yes to the dress, and now all you need to do is sign a prenup? Surprise! Prenups are pretty popular now.

“I tell people it’s not about how much you have,” says Hannah Bell. “It’s about what you have and what you want to do with it down the line in the event that there is a divorce.”

Bell is a family and divorce attorney in Huntersville. She says couples are turning to prenuptial agreements for several good reasons.

“People are really getting married later in life, it’s the trend we’re seeing in our society, and people tend to have assets if they get married later. Potentially a retirement account or a house they want to protect.”

Prenuptial agreements protect both parties’ assets which include property, retirement accounts, sentimental items, stock options, etc. You can also address future earnings and whether spousal support will be paid in the event of separation or divorce.

The only issue a prenup cannot address is children and custody agreements says Bell. Those are determined by the court.

Bell says you can blame millennials for driving this trend.

“They know unfortunately that the divorce rate is over 50 percent, so they’re thinking, 'ok I want to make this commitment, this lifelong commitment, however statistically it may or may not work out,'” Bell says. “'In the event it does not work out, I may want to protect some of the things I’ve already earned by working for a portion of the time prior to a marriage.'”

If a partner already has children, she says prenups may also make sense.

“Say you’re a single mother and you own a house and you’re going into a marriage and you want to make sure 'hey, if this marriage falls apart, that my now-husband can’t claim a portion of the equity in the home.'”

What if it’s your partner that wants you to sign on the bottom line? Bell says don’t panic. 

“Don’t call off your tux rental or your dress fitting, just kind of take a deep breath and find out from your fiancée why are they asking you to do this? Kind of get to that root issue, is this an insecurity, are they worried about a specific asset, did their parents go through a messy divorce?”

Good communication is key to getting through the process. However, Bell says not all prenups are created equal, and when it comes to unfair or unequal prenuptial agreements, she’s definitely warned clients against signing them.

“I think marriage should be a partnership between two individuals, and if I know that one individual will be in a very bad spot financially if the marriage was to fall apart, then I usually advise, let’s just tweak this a bit, let’s just add some language to protect you as well. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”

If you’d like to follow up with Bell, you can find her contact information on Diana Alvear’s Facebook page.