In a recent survey of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 62 percent of the lawyers polled said they saw an increase in the number of clients seeking prenups during the previous three years. And more than half of the attorneys said they’d seen an uptick in the number of millennials requesting prenuptial agreements.
The prevalence of prenups doesn’t make asking your partner to sign one any easier, though. To make the conversation less thorny, we asked divorce attorneys to share their advice for best ways to ask for a fair, equitable prenup.
1. Have the conversation as early as possible.
This is a delicate, uncomfortable conversation, but if it’s something that genuinely matters to you, you owe it to your partner to bring it up as soon as possible, said Lisa Helfend Meyer, a family law attorney in Los Angeles.
“In fact, bring up the subject when you are still dating,” Meyer said. “That way, you can gauge your partner’s reaction to one. If the reaction is to move to the other room, then you know you will need to handle with extra sensitivity.”
2. Know that it’s going to be a weird, heavy conversation.
There’s no way around it: Broaching the subject is going to cause some tension in your relationship, said Atlanta-based divorce attorney Randall Kessler. In his 30 years in family law, he’s rarely heard of a prenup conversation that’s been hiccup-free.
“I’ve heard all kinds of approaches. What usually seems to work best is the truth,” Kessler said. “Say something along the lines of, ‘My family and I have always discussed and agreed that if I or my brother ever got married, we would sign a prenup,’ or, ’My best friend went through a horrible divorce and all he can remember from it is his lawyer saying, ‘If only you had signed a prenuptial agreement.’”
If you communicate your wishes in an open and honest way, and your S.O. respects that, you’re very likely on the road to a solid relationship, Kessler added.
3. Emphasize how much of a headache you’ll be saving yourselves later.
Ultimately, a prenup has the power to uncomplicate a messy, knotty personal situation, said Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney in Pittsburgh.
“Emphasize the fact that a prenup will simplify a divorce and make it quicker, less expensive and less emotionally taxing,” Donnelly told HuffPost. “That will benefit both your fiancée and any future children.”
4. Remind your partner that all relationships end one way or another. You’re just trying to make the inevitable easier.
One way to introduce the idea of a prenup is to talk about how you’d each want to be treated at the end of your marriage, said Katherine Eisold Miller, a divorce attorney in New Rochelle, New York.
“All marriages end, one way or another. Instead of saying, ‘I can’t marry you until we have a prenup,’ try framing it this way: ‘At the end of our marriage, whether it ends in death, as we anticipate, or divorce, what would be important to you and how would you like to be treated?’”
Then, pivot and ask your partner if they’d be open to hearing what would matter most to you in either case.
“A prenup should do something for both people and give them some certainty in difficult times,” Eisold Miller said. “A conversation like this allows for both voices to be heard.”
5. Point out that a good prenup benefits the lower-earning spouse, too.
If you’re worried about coming across as greedy or penny-pinching by bringing this up, remember that a carefully written, thoughtful prenup protects both parties, Kessler said.
“Sometimes, the prenuptial agreement is even more valuable to the less-wealthy spouse because it gives him or her some security about finances in the event of a divorce,” he said.
6. Suggest that you co-create the agreement.
Don’t make this a weird power play: Both partners should be active participants in drafting the prenup to ensure that it’s equitable, said Dennis A. Cohen, a family law attorney and mediator in Marina del Rey, California.
“The trick is to make this a co-created agreement that deals with both of your concerns, not just the partner who has substantially more income or assets than the other,” Cohen said. “It may be helpful to have a neutral mediator help you reach an agreement that addresses both of your needs and desires.”
Regardless of how you go about it, end the conversation with a promise to be fair and reasonable throughout the process, and actively listen to your partner’s concerns.
“This is, after all, a person you love and want to marry,” Cohen said. “Keeping that uppermost in your mind, words and deeds will result in you coming up with an agreement that works for both of you.”