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Ask Dave

Prenuptial Precaution

Jennifer is 39 with a fiancé who is 51. They have no children, and he wants a prenuptial agreement. Spiritually, Jennifer feels something isn't right about that. What is Dave's take on a prenup?

QUESTION: Jennifer in New York City is 39 with a fiancé who is 51. They have no children, and he wants a prenuptial agreement. Spiritually, Jennifer feels something isn’t right about that. What is Dave’s take on a prenup?

ANSWER: When I first started doing financial counseling from a spiritual perspective, I started seeing husbands and wives enter into marriage over this money stuff with prenuptial agreements that were, in my opinion, ridiculous. Maybe he had a collectible car that he wanted to protect from her, and that kind of stuff. These are people who don’t need to be married because they like their stuff more than they love the spouse.

I took the stance initially of, “I don’t ever believe in prenuptial agreements.” I’ve modified that a little bit because what I’ve discovered in 20 years of doing this is usually the people who have a net worth of $2 million or greater, they usually aren’t weird. And usually, the person they are talking about marrying isn’t weird.

But I will tell you that if you go one ring further out, you find some weirdness. There is something about that million-dollar mark or greater number that weirdness is just in the air. I am pretty sure that when I pass away, there is a good likelihood my wife would get remarried someday. I’ve told her, with our net worth, to be sure and get a prenuptial agreement just to protect her against the weirdness that’s out there.

But if it’s a fairly small situation, such as anything under $2 million, then I wouldn’t do a prenuptial agreement ever because I think you ought to say all of my worldly goods I thee pledge. I like the old-fashioned vows of in sickness and health, for rich and for poor. You’re going to take a bullet for me, and I’m going to take a bullet for you. We’re going to die for each other, we’re going to serve each other from a spiritual perspective, we’re going to create unity, and so on.

I really am against prenups with the exception of when the person has a net worth in excess of $2 million and the other person doesn’t. Then I think there might be enough of a chance of weirdness somewhere out there in the mess that it’s probably a good idea. I’m not against it in your situation.

It’s not because I think you’re a bad person or that someone directly attached to you is a bad person. If I thought that, I would just tell him to run. There is just something where, if you put that many zeroes on some number, things get weird. An example of that would be in another relationship, not a marriage relationship, but the way your fiancé’s college friends might treat him now. They treat him different, and they shouldn’t. Some people get weird around people they perceive to have money.

I’m not suggesting you are in this for the money at all. I would say yes to a prenuptial agreement in this case. I will tell you that the prenuptial agreement needs to be there in your relationship only as a safeguard against extreme weirdness. It doesn’t need to be in the spirit of someone having one foot out the door already because you’re unsure if this will work out.

I wouldn’t suggest my daughter marry a guy like that if he wasn’t all-in and going to serve her and lead her from a servant attitude where, if she got cancer, he would empty his bank account to take care of her. But I don’t want him legally bound to weirdness. But other than weirdness, he needs to be all-in in terms of the relationship and the commitment and those kinds of things. If he’s not there on that and this is an indicator of that, then we have other issues.

But if he’s all-in and he wants a legal document in case of extreme weirdness, and he’s completely committed to this situation, then you’re okay.