Debunking myths about prenups

Prenuptial agreements can be very useful tools, allowing couples to sort out many of the financial details of a divorce long before they actually get divorced. Some couples use them as a way to protect assets or businesses. Others just want the security of knowing that they’re financially safe as they agree to get married and they don’t have to worry about the future.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about prenups. Let’s break some of them down to uncover the truth.

Myth One: You can sign the prenup whenever you want

The Truth: You actually do need to plan this in advance. A last-minute prenup — one signed on the day before your wedding, for instance — may not stand up in court. If you want a prenup, do not procrastinate and then tell your spouse at the last minute. It may already be too late.

Myth Two: You don’t actually have to write it down

The Truth: It does need to be in writing. While you’re on good terms, right before your wedding, it’s easy for one person to say that the other can have specific financial assets or to say “I don’t want anything.” But a handshake deal or an offhand statement like that isn’t going to count as a valid prenup years later.

Myth Three: If you ask for a prenup, you already want to get divorced

The Truth: Prenups are like partnership agreements in business. You hope you don’t need to use them as the relationship ends, but you’re conscious of the fact that you can’t predict the future. You just want to be safe in case it happens.

Myth Four: You can put anything you want in the prenup

The Truth: A prenup cannot be too weighted to one side, such as saying that you get all of the money if your spouse asks for a divorce. It also can’t be illegal, it can’t dictate child custody after divorce and it can’t get you out of other financial obligations.

These are just four of the most common myths, but they make it clear how much misinformation exists. If you do want to use a prenup, be sure you know exactly how it works.