Should I sign a pre-nup?

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Q. I’m getting married to a guy from a really rich family. His parents want me to sign a pre-nup. I have a job that pays $110,000 a year and I don’t feel poor. Should I sign it? How can I protect myself?

A. There’s a lot we don’t know here, but the first step to protecting yourself is to retain an experienced family law attorney. This person can take the time to review all the relevant facts and circumstances, and offer you an informed opinion regarding what is in your best interest.

We took your question to Ken White, an attorney with Shane and White in Edison.

He said a pre-nup may not be a negative.

“If drafted correctly, such a document can serve to protect both your fiancé and yourself in the event your marriage ends in divorce,” White said. “For example, if there is a short-term marriage, rather than spending many thousands of dollars on attorneys litigating a divorce, the pre-nup may serve to fairly and equitably resolve your dispute, avoiding the unnecessary wasting of time. emotion and money on litigation.”

You may also be able to negotiate terms into the pre-nup that are favorable to yourself.

White said many of the assets that your fiancé’s parents want to protect would probably be protected whether there was a pre-nup or not. For example, gifts received by one spouse during a marriage from third parties, such as a monetary gift directly provided by his parents to him, are immune from equitable distribution whether there is a pre-nup or not.

Similarly, inheritances received during the course of your marriage by one spouse independently are immune from equitable distribution whether there is a pre-nup or not, White said.

“The point I am making is that often members of the public overreact regarding the need to have a pre-nup or to be offended by the prospect of a pre-nup,” he said.

Often, as a compromise, a pre-nup is drafted with an expiration date included. Specifically, your fiancé’s parents want to know that you are not marrying their son for short-term financial gain, White said. So, after a 10-plus year marriage or the birth of a grandchild, your future in-laws would recognize that you did not have a hidden agenda. Accordingly, language can be placed in the pre-nup confirming that after a set period of time, perhaps 10 years or the birth of a child, that the terms of the pre-nup expire or are otherwise declared null and void.

“The only way to know whether you should sign the pre-nup or perhaps seek modifications to the language to be contained within the same is to work with an experienced family law attorney,” White said.

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This story was first posted in September 2015. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.