Friday, April 19, 2024

The Love Diaries: ‘I Thought Prenups Were Only For People Like J.Lo!’ Why More Young Women Are Getting Prenups

More and more young women are opting to draw up prenups before walking down the aisle, or getting into a defacto relationship. So, how come? We chat to an expert about everything from who needs a prenup to how to discuss the topic with a partner, plus we talk to two women who have had very different experiences with prenups (or a lack there-of!)

Welcome to our series, The Love Diaries – a space for you to share your experiences, advice, fairy-tale endings, setbacks and heartbreaks. We’ll be hearing from industry experts giving practical advice alongside Capsule readers (You!) sharing your firsthand experiences with love – from the woman who cheated on her husband with a work colleague, one woman’s temptation now the love of her life is finally single (although she’s not), and the woman who forced her husband to choose between her and his girlfriend. 

Ten years ago, Jennifer’s father died. It was a traumatic experience (he died very suddenly from an unexpected heart attack), but, Jennifer’s father was a planner and she soon discovered he had all the paper work in place, as well as thorough planning of his own funeral.

In his will, Jennifer’s father split all of his assets between her and her younger sister (her parents divorced when they were very young, and he never remarried). They sold his house, as per his wishes, and split the profits between them. It was enough for Jennifer to put down a very handsome deposit on a home of her own. She rented that house out until three years ago, when she sold the house (for a very handsome profit) and bought a new home for her to live in.

Around the same time, she met her fiancée. He moved in a year ago, and proposed at Christmas time.

When Jennifer had a meeting with her mortgage broker he congratulated her on the engagement and then recommended she get something in place immediately: a pre-nup or relationship agreement.

It took Jennifer by surprise. “I was aware of pre-nups, but not of the fact that if you’re living with someone for three years or more, that you’re a defacto couple,” she says. “Technically, if we broke up, he could have a claim to my assets. We’re getting married, so obviously I don’t think he’s going anywhere, or would screw me over like that, but my broker really urged me to look at it.”

Jennifer says the idea of suggesting a pre-nup to her fiancée made her feel uncomfortable. “Like, who do I think I am? A celebrity?” she says. “And I was worried what he would think. I didn’t want to make him feel like I didn’t trust him.”

Just as she was fretting about how to approach the subject, her fiancé started talking to her about finances.

“He asked if I wanted to keep our accounts separate, or combine them,” she says. “He also suggested he either buy me out for half the house, or we could look at buying a new place together so we were even. Then he said he thought we should get a prenup because I had more assets and cash than him, and wanted to make sure I was protected.”

Jennifer says it was a relief. “I had worked out how I was going to ask him, but honestly, it was a weight off my shoulders when he suggested it. I felt sweaty any time I thought about it. Because I got my start from my dad, I felt an extra responsibility to protect that money.”

While prenups may be something that we often associate with celebrities on their fourth marriage, in reality, they’re something that many couples – particularly women – are putting in place, with many, many more wishing they’d looked into getting one before they tied the knot.

Relationship expert and divorce coach Bridgette Jackson of Equal Exes says prenups have long been a bit of a taboo subject – but they’re often just misunderstood.  

“Even the word ‘prenup’ will send people into a panic or wonder!” says Bridgette. “Celebrity culture has certainly attributed to some perceptions about what a prenup is and what can happen, such as fights over money and messy divorces as the prenup is called into question.  This has led to people assuming greed, non-commitment, dominant personality when one party raises the subject of one in a relationship.”

Bridgette says that interestingly, it is becoming standard practice by the younger generation to now have a prenup in their first marriage. Traditionally, they’ve been something that is more likely to be instated in later marriages – around 80-85% of second marriages/relationships have a pre-nup in place. Most often in those situations, people have learned a few lessons from their previous relationships. Now, people are learning from their parent’s mistakes, as well as the fact that a prenup is now becoming less taboo.

“More women now have high paying roles, own their own properties and are getting married later,” says Bridgette. “ It is also no coincidence that the younger generation know how to manage their money better than those older than them.  This is largely due to being older [than their parents and grandparents] when they marry or commit to a long term relationship.  They are savvy, intelligent, and bright and have the foresight.”

Bridgette says a prenup is a smart idea for most relationships and marriages.

“A prenup gives the parties clarity around the financials rather than ambiguity about each of their responsibilities and obligations whilst in the relationship,” she says. “The learnings are many including the benefit of open and honest communication across all areas of their finances including budgeting, investments (together or separate) and debt management.”

Bridgette says she has seen a rise in the number of people coming into relationships with their own assets – like a home. “ If there is no prenup in place there could potentially be an issue that may be subject to division between the parties,” she says. “And, like in Jennifer’s case, this is also true for inheritances if they separate, as the inheritance may also be subject to division between the parties.”

In saying that, there is also a misconception that prenups are only for those with significant assets and money. But as Bridgette tells, it’s often more about future financial protection.

“ Most people believe their relationship will be long term but want to protect their assets and property in the event that it doesn’t work out.,” she says. “Entering into a prenup gives each the best opportunity to safeguard assets in the event of separation/divorce, just as it can protect one party from incurring high debt or financial burden.  Assets can be investments, property, inheritance and business interests.”

Capsule reader Jean says she wished she’d had one in place.

“Six years after we got married we separated,” she says. “It was a pretty nasty split. Six months before we divorced I was made redundant. I’d been at the company for nearly 20 years and I got a large payout. He wound up getting a good chunk of it. It felt unfair, because I worked hard for that money – and had done for many, many years before I met him. I wish we’d had a prenup – but I hadn’t heard of anyone getting one back then.”

While prenups are becoming more commonplace, Bridgette agrees that bringing up the topic can still be tricky and uncomfortable.

So, what’s her advice?

“Any conversation around a prenup should be had with sensitivity and respect, at a time when there are no distractions,” she says. “The conversation requires open communication, understanding and respect for the other person.  The decision to have a prenup should ultimately, be made together, once both parties have had the opportunity to openly discus and time to consider what a prenup should cover.”

Bridgette’s top advice for talking about a prenup:

Choosing the right time.  Both should be relaxed and calm and ready to have an open conversation. In the middle of one person cooking dinner is often not the right time, nor is in the middle of an argument or when either party is stressed.  A few days before a wedding is certainly not the right time.

Being honest and transparent.  The person raising the topic should have their motivation for wanting a prenup, written down.  They need to be clear that it is not about lack of trust [if there is a lack of trust around finances, then that should be a separate discussion].  Instead a prenup is about protecting both parties’ interests in the event of unforeseen breakdown of the relationship.

Being clear about the shared benefits.  While a prenup can protect one party’s assets, it can also often financial security and clarity to both of them.  It can also reduce conflict that can come in the event of a divorce, while also preserving assets for children from previous relationships.

Both parties need to seek legal guidance and advice.  This can be one together or independently of each other.  A family lawyer can meet with both people, to outline the legal implications, the benefits and options available to both people.  They can also address concerns, misconceptions and be a sounding board, so both parties have a clear understanding. 

Both need to listen and be open to each other’s perspective.  Both parties need to have the opportunity to express their thoughts, concerns and feelings.  It is also essential that their partner actively listen with empathy to show that their input is valuable, so both can reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Compromise.  When two people come together to discuss something each may have a slightly different opinion and will approach the topic from a different viewpoint.  It is important that both are open to compromise and finding a mutually agreeable solution.  In the case of a prenup and postnup it should be a fair and balanced document that addresses the need for one, and the goals of both people.

Consultation of trusted people. Depending on the circumstances of each couple, one or both need to have the opportunity seek advice, from those they value. This can be family members, close friends or financial advisers.  They can provide perspective and balance, to what can be an emotional discussion and help to bring clarity to the decision making process.  

Getting WILD at the QT Auckland: Champagne Problems & Fried Chicken in Bed – Finally Getting to Live Out the Rock Star Fantasy on...

Kelly Bertrand and her fiancé have a wild night at the QT Auckland and live out some true rock star fantasies (and if you're...

“It’s What I’ve Always Dreamed Of” – Football Fern Hannah Wilkinson on Progress, Equality & the ‘Bittersweet’ Comedown of the World Cup

She's New Zealand football's golden girl, with her generation-inspiring goal in the opening World Cup match against Norway sending the nation into raptures. But...

Resume Values Vs Eulogy Values: Where Does Your Self-Worth Come From, If It Doesn’t Come From Your Job?

Approaching the midlife point, it can start to be a big question: what does it mean to live a life your proud of? A...

The Motherhood Diaries: ‘I Went to My IVF Embryo Transfer… Then Drove My Friend to Get An Abortion’

On the same day that Capsule reader Belle had an IVF embryo transfer appointment, she volunteered to be the one taking a friend to...