Ahh, the romance of determining how you will break up when the affair is in full bloom. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may not fan the flames of desire but they are a very practical tool for managing the fact that marriage occurs between humans, not saints or angels.
You may think that that prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are for rich people with lots of assets. While the prenuptial agreements you hear about tend to be the more high-profile ones, they’re actually more common than you think and are increasingly practical for the middle class, particularly if you have assets or children prior to the marriage.
So what exactly are these contracts? A prenuptial agreement is executed prior to marriage while a postnuptial agreement is done after marriage. The laws vary slightly on what can and can not be agreed upon in either document. Generally they contain provisions regarding spousal support and division of assets should a break-up occur, protection of assets brought into the marriage by each party, and penalties for “bad behavior” (i.e., adultery). They rarely contain provisions for custody of children (this is usually settled by the courts). They may contain an expiration date, after which the marriage is subject to jurisdictional laws.
There is never really a good time to bring up a prenuptial agreement but the best time to bring it up is as soon as possible. Put it out there in casual conversation when the talk to turns to marriage. As long as he knows what your thoughts are on the topic, he won’t be surprised when you ask him to sign on the dotted line.
These agreements can take months to finalize so it’s best to start cracking on it earlier rather than later. A good option is to use a mediator to hammer out the details then use an attorney when signing the documents. Using attorneys to do the negotiation is expensive and may get contentious as each attorney attempts to represent their client rather than the relationship.