If you have been divorced, you may be excited and yet anxious when your child decides to marry. You may be happy that she has found love, but you may also be painfully aware of the difficulties she may encounter if the marriage ends in divorce. How to protect your child from a possible divorce while still showing excitement for the marriage and welcoming her fiancé into your family can be a difficult balance.
Raising the issue of a prenuptial agreement is not an easy discussion, and should not be had right after the engagement is announced. Ideally the discussion was had many years ago. By the time the happy couple decides to wed, your child should already know that she needs a prenuptial agreement.
I tell my clients to talk to your kids about prenups around the time they start dating, or when they start to get serious with someone. The earlier you talk to kids about prenups, the better. If you wait until the wedding plans are announced, your child may be reluctant and the fiancé may be offended. It may cause your relationship with your daughter or son-in-law to start out on a sour note.
Talking to your kids before they are engaged allows them to become comfortable with the idea of having a prenuptial agreement. The concept will not be foreign to them when they do get engaged, and it will not be a commentary on their fiancé. If you wait until they are engaged, raising the issue of a prenup may be interpreted as a sign you do not like or trust your future in-law.
Also make sure you convey that having a prenup is not a negative concept. The reality is that about half of all marriages end in divorce. The prenuptial agreement will provide protection for both parties in the event of divorce, and also in the event one of death. It can also open the discussion between the couple about their finances and lead to a more open and honest dialogue about money. Many couples use it as a basis to talk about how they will deal with their money once they are married.
Some parents like to have a discussion with their children themselves, while others prefer a more formal meeting with their lawyer or wealth advisor. This allows the children to learn not only about prenuptial agreements, but also about estate planning and any potential inheritance they may receive. It also gets them used to having advisors. You will not be around forever and your child needs to know the right advisors to speak with about legal and financial issues. At the end of the day, it’s all about educating the next generation and helping them to protect themselves.