Does the idea of getting a prenup before marriage sounds a bit gross? Understandable.
You know what’s even worse? Divorce.
Prenups in popular culture look like they’re meant for people half-assing their marriage. E.g. Trump is on his third marriage and he does a prenup because he’s bound to cheat. Yeah, this doesn’t make the prospect look good for a healthy marriage.
However, for a certain economic class of couple, I believe a prenup could be exactly what’s needed to preserve a marriage and increase the commitment.
I don’t think prenups should be used to keep one foot out of the door in your marriage, but rather to disincentivize divorce entirely.
How Prenups Work
Go ahead and skip this section if you’re already familiar.
A prenup (short for prenuptial) is an agreement you make ahead of marriage vows pre-determining how you would split assets in case of a divorce (i.e. splitting assets, alimony amount, inheritance rules).
A postnup is the same agreement made after the marriage. These are less popular for the obvious reason of why in the world would someone willingly give up leverage after both parties have already signed. It has a high risk of creating conflict and a low chance at resolution.
Note: if you live in the state of California, Texas, Washington, or a few others, your prenup doesn’t matter. These are “community property” states and any assets acquired during the marriage will be split, regardless of prenup terms.
These agreements will not cover how a child is raised. Maybe you want to spend X days with your child a week, or want them raised in a certain religion, or whatever. Too bad, you have to negotiate that in court and with your former spouse. Terms included in prenups that try to determine rules around the child are unenforceable in court.
When a Prenup Isn’t Necessary
If a couple started from zero and built a business together, I can understand why assets should be split evenly. This was the case with Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott. She actually helped him build Amazon (in addition to the burden of raising kids, which women tend to do more of—particularly in earlier years).
In cases like the one above, a split of assets makes sense.
When You Need a Prenup
For someone like Elon Musk, his latest marriage falling apart (lol who could’ve seen that coming) was absolutely protected by a prenup. I’m sure it was a bit easier for him to propose that since he already had one divorce in his history, and also Grimes (his ex-wife) had a lucrative career of her own.
If there is a major disparity between the two partners, a prenup incentivizes the lesser-income partner from leaving. Paradoxically, this keeps things much more equal (relationally).
Otherwise, the one with less money sees their behavior as a win-win. Either they stay in love with their spouse and things are good, or they run around, cheat, behave poorly, and they walk away with millions. If Adele had a prenup then her divorce wouldn’t have cost her $140 out of her $190 million fortune(speculatively).
As an aside, what’s with the uber-rich and divorce? Do they just pick poorly, or are more prone to high-risk behavior? Not blaming her, Musk, or anyone for their divorces—but the stats have to tell you something is going wrong very consistently.
So Should You Get One?
If you have a 7-figure net worth or multiple 6-figure income, then hell yes. It’s not even a difficult question for me.
Divorce laws today are archaic holdovers from a time when one spouse was expected to care for the other. One of the unintended consequences of western culture changing and its laws remaining is the extremely high divorce rate today, as well as the precipitously falling marriage rate. People today marry later and less often.
I love marriage. I want marriage and many, many children. Therefore, I want to give it the best shot possible.
For someone who is wealthy and also interested in marriage, I strongly encourage them to consider a prenup.
It could save your family.