Couples may not want to talk about finances before marriage, but this conversation could be just as important as other lifestyle decisions, such as whether to have kids and what kind of values will be conveyed to them.
In both areas, the point of the conversation is to get a feel for the other partner’s values and expectations. Significant assets or debt obligations may also be disclosed, sometimes to the other partner’s surprise. Yet to the extent that a marriage will require shared obligations and expenses, it is important to know if one partner has substantial student loan debts or other financial constraints.
A prenuptial agreement can address a wide variety of issues. In addition to clarifying that existing property should not be included in the marital estate in the event of a divorce, the agreement can also discuss whether appreciation of assets should be kept separate. The same goes for cash assets that might otherwise get commingled in a joint account, as well as pensions or retirement plans.
As a Massachusetts family law firm that has helped many clients organize and clarify their assets before marriage, we appreciate the value provided by prenuptial agreements. Yet there are proactive measures that can be taken even if a couple is reluctant to reduce their understanding to contractual language.
Granted, open communication is a great value to promote in marriage. However, that openness can be maintained even if a couple decides to keep separate bank and credit accounts. A happy medium might be to open a joint bank account, into which each partner direct deposits a certain amount. A joint credit card could also be reserved only for household expenses.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “5 Smart Investment Moves to Make Before Marriage,” Dawn Reiss, July 27, 2016