5 WAYS A MARRIAGE AGREEMENT CAN STRENGTHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIPJun 25 2014
A marriage agreement (often commonly called a “pre-nup” or “pre-nuptial agreement”) is not the most romantic of documents. Certainly, most couples would rather spend time pouring over love letters or vacation pics than a marriage agreement.
But while the idea of a marriage agreement may seem unappealing, over the years we’ve seen how marriage agreements can strengthen relationships:
1. It Forces You to Deal With Tough Questions
When you’re in love, it’s easy to put aside in depth discussions of money, work and children. Yet people commonly cite disagreements in these areas as reasons for divorce. Negotiating a marriage agreement in advance of a formal commitment forces you and your fiancée to communicate openly on these subjects before you get married or move in together.
For example, a marriage agreement can compel you to consider the following:
- Children and child rearing. Will you have children? Will one of you stay at home with them? For how long?
- Work. Will both of you work? How much will each of you contribute to household expenses?
- Finances. Will you maintain joint accounts, separate accounts or both?
- Assets. What assets do you and your future spouse have? Will you share them equally?
By having this discussion early, you may avoid future conflicts that could lead to the end of your marriage.
2. It Creates Certainty
When you have a marriage contract in place, you have a good idea of what will happen if the marriage ends. You can decide how property will be divided, who will pay spousal support and even how the children will be parented.
Because you and your partner have agreed to these arrangements, you can make future decisions about your marriage based on real information, not guesses. It may persuade you to work on your marriage rather than give up too easily.
If you or your partner decide to dissolve your marriage, a marriage agreement can reduce the cost of the divorce. Rather than having every issue dragged through court, a marriage agreement can lay out the terms in advance.
3. It Sets a Direction for the Future
A marriage agreement allows you and your future spouse to build a road map for the future of your relationship. The road map could include decisions related to:
- Home purchase and ownership. Will you purchase a home together or live in your existing home? Your partner’s home? Will your spouse become a co-owner of your existing home?
- Financial goals. Do you share the same financial goals? Which goals have priority?
Through a marriage agreement, you and your partner can define your goals and obligations. The process can help set expectations for the relationship, eliminate fears that could drive bad decisions and give you fewer things to disagree about!
4. It Creates Peace of Mind
While marriage is the coming together of two people, it has implications for others, especially parents, children and business partners.
You can use your marriage agreement to alleviate fears, decrease resentment and build support for your marriage. Questions you might want to address are:
- Children from previous relationships. How will you and your future spouse parent children from previous relationships? How is the other parent of the child involved? Who will pay to support the child?
- Family businesses. Are you or your partner involved in a family business that needs to be protected?
- Inheritances. Do you or your partner expect to inherit? How will that money be treated?
- Financial commitments. Has a parent loaned money to you or your partner? Who is responsible for repayment?
- Joint property. Do you or your partner own property jointly with parents?
- Dispute resolution. How will you resolve disputes with your future spouse? Mediation? Or other means?
5. It Gives You and Your Future Spouse Greater Control
In the absence of a marriage agreement, your marriage is subject to laws set by provincial and federal governments. Division of assets, responsibility for debts, payment of spousal support and responsibility for child rearing are governed by these laws.
To some degree, a marriage agreement gives you and your future spouse the opportunity to customize the “rules” that will apply to you and your relationship and make sure they provide the best possible support for your marriage.
So while developing a marriage agreement might not seem terribly romantic, if it’s developed well in advance and facilitated by open, honest discussion, it can do more to strengthen your relationship than the sweetest love letter or vacation memory.