“You Give Love A Bad Name:” Debunking the Myths of Prenuptial Agreements
- “Prenuptial Agreements are just for celebrities and wealthy people. I am neither rich nor famous, so I do not need one. ”
False. A Prenuptial Agreement in Louisiana is typically done to “opt-out” of community property. In Louisiana when two parties get married, they are automatically defaulted into a community property regime. This means from the time you say “I Do,” all income and assets that are acquired by you or your spouse are presumed to be community property. This includes assets that are more obvious, like the family home, but also less obvious assets like cars titled in your name only, funds from your paychecks placed in bank accounts in your name only, and even funds from your paycheck going into your retirement account. Debts that are accumulated during the marriage are also presumed community property obligations– even debts that are accumulated by your spouse without your knowledge. Upon divorce, community assets accumulated during the marriage are split and community debts are also shared. No matter your income or celebrity status, a Prenuptial Agreement can help protect you and your future assets.
- “Prenuptial Agreements set up a marriage so that it is destined to fail.”
False. Actually, having open and honest conversations with your significant other about expectations regarding finances in your marriage is a smart thing to do. A Prenuptial Agreement can help with this. One of the biggest reasons for divorce stems from disagreements over finances. Having the attitude of “we’ll worry about finances later” is like saying “I’ll worry about my retirement when I’m retirement age” and then expecting everything to go smoothly. It is best to have a plan in place before marriage.
- “Prenuptial Agreements are an ugly thing to talk about with your fiancé.”
False. A couple can use a Prenuptial Agreement as a tool to establish how finances will be handled during the marriage. Another feature of a Prenuptial Agreement, aside from opting out of Community Property, is that the parties can outline how household expenses will be shared, how joint bank accounts will be set up and used, etc. This can help manage expectations and create predictability. It is likely better to have the slightly uncomfortable talk before marriage than risk full-fledge arguments later about money that could possibly lead to divorce.
- “I am already married. It’s too late to get a Prenuptial Agreement.”
Partially False. In Louisiana, a couple can enter into a matrimonial agreement during marriage that is similar to a Prenuptial Agreement, specifically where a couple can “opt out” of the default Community Property laws and instead have a Separate Property regime. This requires court approval. However, if you are new to Louisiana and want to “opt out” of Community Property laws, this does not require court approval if done within a year of establishing a Louisiana domicile.
Before tying the knot, you may want to consider a Prenuptial Agreement to protect yourself and future assets that you may acquire.
If you are interested in a Prenuptial Agreement, reach out to a family law attorney at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick in Louisiana for help. We are here to help you navigate through this process!